Nokia promises new smartphone UI paradigm with MeeGo

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) plans to shake up the smartphone user interface when it releases MeeGo devices next year, according to a Nokia executive--though how exactly it will do so remains something of a mystery. 

Click here for video of Marko Ahtisaari’s presentation on Nokia user interfaces.Marko Ahtisaari, senior vice president of design and user experience at Nokia, compared the current state of the smartphone UI market to where the automotive industry was in 1890s, 15 years before carmakers settled on the steering wheel as the way to operate cars.

Speaking at the LeWeb conference in Paris, Ahtisaari said that currently there are two main UI paradigms. One, he said, is Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, which he called "beautifully elegant," easy to learn and "fantastically constrained." The other is the one popularized by Nokia's Symbian and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, which he said is organic and has multiple screens that users can build and change over time.

"These two patterns are both very interesting, but it's hard to believe that this is where smartphone evolution ends," he said. Without getting into specifics on how MeeGo will change the market, he said it will be important to make smartphones' touchscreens less immersive and attention-hogging, and that Nokia wants to "give people their head up again." The Nokia executive did hint that MeeGo devices will have few, if any, physical buttons, thereby "allowing the apps to shine."

Nokia held a major conference for the platform in Dublin last month, and discussed its product strategy--but provided no product roadmap. MeeGo is an open-source project but was created by Nokia and Intel. Doug Fisher, vice president of Intel's software and solutions group and general manager of Intel's systems software division, told Forbes in October that the first MeeGo smartphones will be available in the first half of 2011. 

For more:
- see this Nokia Conversations post
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)
- see this Mashable post

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