Analyst: Nokia planning Maemo iPhone competitor

Nokia plans to release a mass-market, Linux-based Maemo smartphone to compete with Apple's iPhone in the second half of 2010, according to UBS analyst Maynard Um. Although the move appears to signal an increasing reliance by Nokia on Maemo at the expense of Symbian, a Nokia spokesman said the company still considers the Symbian platform its main smartphone operating system.

Nokia plans to launch its first Maemo 5-based phone, the N900, in November.

"Nokia cited that it expects to have a mass market iPhone competitor in [the second half of 2010] based on Maemo which we believe is a recognition that the ability to rely solely on the more standardized Symbian to compete is limited," Um wrote in a research note to investors.

Nokia spokesman Joseph Gallo declined to comment on the UBS report.

"We are absolutely committed to Symbian as our smartphone platform," he told FierceWireless. He said the company had been exploring Maemo for a few years, and that the N900 was the natural progression of that work.

In the third quarter, the world's largest handset vendor admitted to troubles on the smartphone front; Nokia said its global smartphone market share dropped to 35 percent in the third quarter, from 41 percent in the second quarter. The loss is essentially an acknowledgement of the dramatic smartphone advances by the likes of Research In Motion, Apple and others.

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