Ina Fried

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Nokia to End “Meltemi” Effort for Low-End Smartphones

One of the casualties of Nokia’s latest cuts is Meltemi, the company’s effort to create a new Linux-based operating system for low-end smartphones.

The project was aimed at offering smartphones at prices that neither Android or Windows Phone could easily reach, but also would have required Nokia to try to woo developers for yet another operating system.

Nokia never officially confirmed the existence of Meltemi, so it likewise isn’t confirming its demise. However, sources tell AllThingsD that the project has been shelved, though elements of it may live on in other efforts.

The end of the Meltemi project comes as Nokia is cutting a further 10,000 jobs, closing a plant in Finland and shuttering research facilities in Canada and Germany. Nokia announced last year that it was ceasing active work on Meego, a separate Linux-based operating system that it had planned to use at the high end, before making the move to Windows Phone.

Asked about Meltemi on a conference call Thursday, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that he had never talked publicly about a development project by that name, but noted that Nokia was ending some development projects.

In its press release, Nokia also took pains to note its continued focus on its current low-end smartphone platforms, known as Series 30 and Series 40. Last week, the company announced new all-touch phones in its Series 40-based Asha line.

Mary McDowell, who has been leading Nokia’s low-end phone business, is among the executives leaving the company as part of a leadership shuffle.

Nokia also said it is working hard with Microsoft to find ways to bring Windows Phone to ever-lower price points. The company is continuing efforts in the Windows-based tablet arena, sources said, though the company has yet to announce any products there.

Richard Kerris, who helps lead Nokia’s efforts with developers, said that Thursday’s moves, while difficult, should allow the company to put more resources into its key projects.

“We have awesome products in the pipeline, and our developers are going to love them,” Kerris said.

Nokia is also exploring alternatives for another of its development environments, known as Qt, which today is used largely in embedded devices.

“We’re fans of Qt, and we’ll continue to support it in the near term, but are being open about looking for opportunities which may be best for this developer framework,” Kerris said.

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