I remember back when we thought (official) Nokia-made Android phones were a possibility. Needless to say, those dreams were almost completely crushed by a weighty offer from Microsoft for Nokia to build Windows Phones with a little cash incentive.
Since then, Nokia's path has changed entirely. While they're still developing Symbian, they have scrapped Symbian efforts in the United States. Their other platform, MeeGo, which was a product of their partnership with Intel to bring another Linux-based, open source platform to the mobile market, has also been scrapped. But not before they released the one and only MeeGe handset ... ever.
The MeeGo-toting, unibody Nokia N9 was announced in late June of last year. It had long been rumored and leaked prior to the announcement, and the MeeGo operating system was still largely a mystery. However, when the N9 finally launched, it was also discovered that Nokia had no plans for future MeeGo devices, regardless of the success of the N9.
But the device garnered quite a bit of attention, nonetheless – for a DOA device at least. Many Nokia, Maemo and MeeGo enthusiasts bought the N9. And when I wrote an article asking if readers would buy the N9 since Expansys brought it to the States sans contract in November, quite a few people commented saying they had already ordered one, planned on ordering one or at least wanted to.
For me, the N9 alone wasn't enough for me to pull the trigger. I wanted one, there's no question about that. But Expansys was selling the device for a staggering $690 for the 16GB version. If I had bought the N9 and didn't like MeeGo, my options would have been very slim. There was little to no development support and I would have to return the device, try to resell it to someone for close to what I bought it for (yeah right) or stick it out. The risk was simply too high.
Earlier this morning, however, some rather interesting pictures found their way to Twitter. The picture you see above was tweeted by Alexey Roslyakov, part of the NITDroid team, which shows a "work in progress" picture of Ice Cream Sandwich running on the buttonless Nokia N9 – a Nokia and Android lover's dream come true.
As you can clearly tell by the picture, the Ice Cream Sandwich build is far from finished. It's hard to say exactly what is going on in the picture, but it looks like the lock screen, displayed in landscape, is still showing over the home screen (in portrait). In other words, it's full of bugs and could be weeks, months or even more from a finished build. But the important part here is that the N9 may reclaim its place in the hearts of many. What's more is that you don't have to fully bid MeeGo adieu. The port is being developed as a dual-boot option, allowing you to enjoy the pleasures of both platforms, side by side.
Truth be told, I'm kicking myself. I wish I had snagged an N9 before now. The price has come down on them quite a bit since November – from $690 through Expansys to $480 and below on Amazon and eBay. Still, that's a lot of money to lay down for an incomplete build of Ice Cream Sandwich.
My main concern now isn't how far the NITDroid team will go with the Ice Cream Sandwich port or how long the efforts will be continued. It's the hardware in the N9. The build quality is amazing. But the display is only 3.9-inches (480 by 854 pixel resolution), it sports a 1GHz TI OMAP single-core processor and it only has a 1,450 mAh battery. If you compare this to other recent Android phones, the N9's performance will pale in comparison. If I already had the N9, I would have no trouble hanging on to it. But there's no way I can possibly force myself to step back to single-core and a 3.9-inch display after having the Galaxy Nexus.
I'm sure that's not enough to stop some of you, though. Nokia's topnotch hardware mixing with the little green robot is quite a lustrous and rare combination. Tell me, will an Ice Cream Sandwich port to the N9 entice you to pick up a N9? Or are the specs now too far behind to sway you?