What the Nokia N810 means for maemo developers



There is so much to read about the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet (text, pictures, Flash, maemo announcement). Sorry for throwing another blog post, although this one is targeted to developers only.

  • Today a third Nokia Internet Tablet was unveiled. It goes a step further/higher in the Nokia & Nseries channels. Expect more people to know about these devices, more potential users of your software.
  • The hardware changes don’t imply any departure from the N800 in terms of application development. In fact, the same OS2008 based on maemo 4.0 Chinook runs on both the N810 and N800.
  • Having integrated GPS and hardware keyboard instead of optional equivalents via Bluetooth is an invitation to expand features on location awareness and heavier text/key input. Game developers might expand horizons as well.
  • We are running a N810 maemo device program open to current and potential contributors. Note that we have removed the word “developer” to make it clear that non-programmers are included as well. More details tomorrow.

There are more improvements in the software side. I’m leaving them for later since they are tied to the OS2008 and not specifically to the N810.

  • The N810 sales will start on mid November and simultaneously the OS2008 will be available for download for N800 users.
  • Since the Chinook beta SDK was released one month ago, developers will have almost two months to port their applications and be ready for the new and upgraded users.
  • All the porting stories I have heard were rather good in terms of time invested and easiness using the documentation and tools offered (of course I might be biased, please share your own story via maemo garage, planet, developers list…)
  • Yes, the maemo community was one important factor when deciding to organize the N810 launch weeks in advance of the sales start. Independent third party software is also going to get more visibility in the Nokia channels.

But in fact one of the most interesting news for software developers and open source enthusiasts is not tied to the N810 or Chinook, although it’s influenced by both. Maemo is from now on a supported platform in Forum Nokia. This means a lot:

  • Forum Nokia offers support to professional developers. This is what they do, and this is what maemo.org was/is not intended to do beyond community support. If maemo is part of your professional work or you would like to develop professionally for the maemo platform, make sure Forum Nokia knows about you.
  • Forum Nokia also knows about organizing events, business networking, discounted devices, access to prototypes, promotion of champion developers and companies…
  • Forum Nokia is now a window of maemo, GNOME/GTK+, GNU/Linux and open source development to a huge community. They have more than 3,4 million registered users, if only a fraction of them pays now attention to maemo…
  • They are pretty active in discussion boards (Threads: 114,626, Posts: 349,774, Members: 133,656), the wiki (around 3.000 legitimate pages and 9000 contributors) and blogs. They will challenge maemo.org and hopefully this will improve the maemo offering in both sides. maemo.org will keep being the source for all the documentation and we won’t duplicate resources but link each other.
  • The maemo community will gain more diversity with developers with a strong background in software development for mobile handhelds. Symbian, S60, C++, .Net, Java… are the strong flags there (Python growing as well).
  • If maemo scales up, Forum Nokia knows how to handle this. Of course their objective is to bring the maemo platform to a commercial success. This implies answers to a question that is unclear to most of us: what are the business models in a mobile platform based mostly in open source? These answers are needed not only by maemo developers and Forum Nokia, the whole open source community will benefit of good answers as soon as they appear and are proved to be right.

With the professional support and the most Nokia centric services clearly in the Forum Nokia side, maemo.org may gain even more characteristics of a normal open source project. It depends a lot on you, on what you want maemo to be.

35 Responses to “What the Nokia N810 means for maemo developers”

  1. 1 James Henstridge

    Are there any plans to release this one in more markets than the previous two devices?

  2. It looks amazing! Thanks for working on it.
    I hope to be part of this community soon and help improve and advocate it even more.
    My best regards.

  3. 3 cmetz

    Congrats. Been winding through the news off and on all day and overall the press and assessments seen pretty positive after some steam letoff. In any event, looking forward to seeing how a non-developer, heavy user of the N800 might participate in the Maemo device program. Looking forward to the OS upgrade to my 800. Regards.

    Chuck Metz, Jr.

  4. 4 Mikhail Zabaluev

    > This implies answers to a question that is unclear to most of us: what are the business models in a mobile platform

    Why, lock everything down and make the third-party developers kneel and beg for an approved certificate necessary to run on the platform.

    > based mostly in open source?

    That part is irrelevant, I’m afraid…

    Sorry for the cynical rant. I do think we have the greatest software platform for mobile devices out there. Let’s not spoil it.

  5. So when are you guys going to release a phone running Maemo or add 3G to the tablets? 🙂

    Yeah, I know you can’t answer that.

  6. I like gadget, any gadget
    But nokia its look very nice, but no Windows Mobile
    The first think i need from any gadget that i bought that they should have Windows.
    I only familiar with it.

  7. James, I’m not a sales guy but for what I know the Nokia N810 will be available on following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK and USA. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico expected to join in first quarter 2008. More Asian/Pacific countries could be covered as well later on. Please don’t ask whether country A or B not in this list will be covered in the future as I really don’t know.

    Mikhail, software developers have more or less clear business models in the traditional mobile environment, where people pay (happily) even for a ringtone or a background image and there are gateways for micropayment and such through carriers. It makes sense they ask question when presenting the maemo platform to them. In the PC context sustainable models have been found thanks for the large implantation of x86 devices out there: public administrations, corporations and specialized small/mid companies can make their living not from selling licensed software but from cutting costs, offering supports and etc. These principles don’t wark like that in the current tablet context, therefore the known answer for the free desktop don’t apply necessarily to the maemo platform (or any other open mobile platform to come).

    Really, sustainability was one of the main topics that brought me to the free software community years ago. I don’t have clear answers to professional developers apart from ‘work for Nokia and companies alike’ (and this is what has allowed the grow of some of the cooles companies around the maemo platform and related technologies until now).

    3G, heh.

    Windows, heh heh huh huh! (sorry, but if the tablets were shipping Windows Mobile I wouldn’t be posting this, nor living in Finland) 🙂

  8. 8 scott47

    It reminds me a lot of the Iphone, but its probably cheaper. Check out my blog to learn how to make money online

  9. Totally agree with Yuri Pakaste, it’s a huge disappointment that this new N810 internet tablet still only features WiFi and Bluetooth. In my country, The Netherlands, WiFi hotspots don’t provide nation-wide coverage, even my ADSL router doesn’t have WiFi. The worst thing is that the N810 doens’t have GSM either. This way that N810 can’t replace my mobile phone. 3G mobile telephony technologies like UMTS/HSDPA do have nation wide coverage in my country and are available for a cheap price, but that’s not supported by the N810 either.

    As it looks like now I’d probably have to buy a Neo1973, even though I’d possibly have a preference for the N810 because of it’s larger display, keyboard and it’s better looks. That’s a pity, so I really hope Nokia can come with a product which can compete with the Neo 1973.

  10. 10 Peter

    Is there any plans to update the 770 Hacker Edition from IT2007 to IT2008?

  11. Alexander, personally I don’t try to beat Nokia on telephony related knowledge. Nokia knows what is doing when shipping tablets without telephony and it has been discussed plenty of times.

    Peter, yes this was announced a while ago in maemo.org, when the last release was made.

  12. 12 Mikhail Borisov

    As far as I understand this device runs Mozilla based web browser. Is it an open source project or not? If yes, where I can download it. Or maybe it’s just using Minimo?

  13. 14 Anonymous

    Will it be possible to run Opera on the N800 after upgrading to Chinook/ITOS2008? Will tablets ever see Opera 9? What is going on with the WebKit EAL implementation?

    I am glad you got Mozilla to the point where you can ship it as the default browser, but I like having two choices of engine and I’d be happier with three.

  14. Nokia hasn’t ported Opera to Chinook, so unless someone else does it it won’t run on OS2008. All our official browser development is concentrated on the Gecko engine and the Mozilla technologies. Webkit is a project well known by some members of our team and by Nokia. The maemo port is being developed by Collabora, though.

    Let’s say that our core mission is to bring to the users the best Internet experience in a mobile device, and for that the sensible thing to do is to concentrate in one browser. Until now we have pushed Mozilla & Flash to a level you don’t find anywhere else, and part of the success belongs of course to the Mozilla community and the maemo contributors that tried and tested the development version this summer.

    Then third parties and community can deliver alternatives. Different choices are very healthy to keep the official development in good shape, I agree.

  15. Thanks for sharing the strategy, Quim!

  16. I’m very excited for this phone… it looks great, I love how it runs linux, and the physical size of it is quite impressive!

  17. 18 killick

    So this thing won’t yet run Java either? Pfft. At least it runs the new flash. When I got my nokia 770 it came with flash, but it was never updated. My kids think the 770 is a joke for internet use because so many of the sites they like run flash.

    I hope the community of developers and users continues to grow, but even more I hope Nokia doesn’t treat this device like a phone – good for 18-24 months, and then discard. The 770 is a good device and could benefit from an updated flash and from Java, but it’s sadly not gonna happen. I’m not buying the 810 until I hear a lot more from Nokia about their plans for obsolescence, and particularly, whether this thing does run Java.

  18. 19 KK

    I had posted this question on the other site too so pardon me asking it here as well.

    I am hoping that the issue of “loss of touch scrolling” (examples below) in the MicroB browser is already resolved in the N810 or hopefully will be resolved soon now that I am bringing it to your attention:

    On my N800, the Opera engine works fine on web sites like the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) and CNN News (www.cnn.com).

    I installed the MicroB engine version 0.0.8-3 on the N800 and tried it. It displays fine but loses touch scrolling on many web sites (www.wsj.com and http://www.cnn.com are examples of popular news website in the US with this issue).

    If you have access to N810 or ITOS2008, could you confirm if the touch scrolling works fine on the two websites mentioned above since Opera is being removed and only MicroB remains?

    Thank you.

  19. Wow! I just found out about this device (and it’s predecessors) and this is only my third link. I personally am THRILLED that it’s not a phone. I’ve been through Treo’s, Sidekicks, Blackberry’s, and they all try to do everything and get nothing really good in the process.

    A linux backend has me GIDDY, a device I could actually develop for. In fact, that is how I found this. Tonight for the first time I gave up on the single platform in place of a ‘linux handheld with bluetooth’ (my google search). Talk about timing.

    The choice of choosing (and CHANGING) my carrier without having to replace my platform is totally worth carrying two devices. I’ve had to do so anyway.

    If it runs a cgi(php,python prefered, but even something complied will work) capable browser so I can port over my PIM/Wiki/GTD apps and I won’t even need a laptop 90% of the time. I just want to be able to access the critical stuff without having to be in range or off the phone.

    A few more links on the N810 and then I’ll start learning about Maemo. I’ve seen it in passing a few times, but never had a need to find out more.

  20. Oops, I meant to add. My second SKIII just bit the dust. I’ve been an avid Nokia user since my first one back in 1995! I resuscitated and old Treo 600 so that I could spend the time looking for something that will actually do what I want without having to begin a new relationship with a cell carrier just before the holiday’s newest toys are released.

    Now… If I can hang in there till they come out.

  21. Second that GarthInThere. This is an awesome device and exactly what i most need. Am keen to integrate location based applications with the GPS that target the South African market. Will the N810 come with street level maps for South Africa tho?

  22. 23 troll

    A device that is useful mostly only when connected, and it doesn’t provide good connectivity. Wtf? No 3G data service? Go away.

  23. Java is not officially supported but it’s gettimg better at http://jalimo.org

    Flash9 cannot be pushed to the 2006 Hacker Edition due to licensing issues. Mozilla based browser + Gnash?

    Other technical details more relevant from a user point of view please contact ie the browser team or the guys around itt. I try to keep this as on topic for developers as possible. The sites you point workforme…

  24. 25 nomadsoul

    We, Game Developers , REALLY thank Nokia for the integrated keyboard.
    SDL gaming was pure hell , without the onscreen kbd. The not so good aspect of the N810 design including a kbd is that game developers wont be really thinking that hard about usability of their games, and this may tend to lazy game design and usability. On the bright side, the keypad seems to hide under the screen and will probably foster more creative game design.

    Now, for the comunity: It would be nice to have the developer program extended to Argentina , Brazil and other latin america countries. (maybe a second developer program?) there are a LOT of people working with maemo around Manaus .Some of them needing the device even more than me. (But of couse, I would love to have one. – Im not asking one with this comment ;-))

    About forum nokia, thats the best news from this post (apart from the n810 launch, of course). I was in the Nokia Tech Days , here in Rio de Janeiro and I felt somewhat like a second-class citizen (Symbian things ruled. Being myself a former indie Symbian Game Developer, it was cool to learn what was to come, anyway). Things only got better when I had the chance to talk to one of the OpenC guys. I made myself very clear on the feedback forms about more Maemo stuff. Looks like they heard it! =-D

  25. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  1. 1 Scripting News for 10/17/07 « Scripting News Annex
  2. 2 Lucas Rocha » Blog Archive » N810 announced!
  3. 3 Steve no sabe de Maemo
  4. 4 thats4you » Blog Archiv » nokia n810 - forget the iPhone!
  5. 5 thats4you » Blog Archiv » nokia n810 - new OS 2008 website
  6. 6 Nseries WOM World » Blog Archive » N810’s impact on application developers
  7. 7 » Zaurus machines starts to be obsolete… » Hrw website
  8. 8 Tablet-Guru » Blog Archive » Nokia N810 After The Dust Has Settled
  9. 9 » 2007 Timeline » Hrw website

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