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Nokia's Meego boss goes

Needed: New Linux box

Nokia's VP of Meego devices is quitting, the company confirmed today.

Ari Jaaksi, who we interviewed a year ago, back when he was running Nokia's Maemo project, is to depart for personal reasons in the next two weeks.

Meego is the joint venture that merges Nokia's version of Linux, Maemo with Intel's, Moblin. Nokia's first Meego devices are expected to be announced in Dublin next month at the first Meego summit.

The departure isn't expected to affect the project, which has been entrusted to Nokia veteran Alberto Torres, with the brief to protect it from the sort of bureaucratic interference that has plagued product development in recent years.

Meego has huge long-term significance to Nokia, which will base its future high-end phones and mobile computers on the software. Nokia first introduced a Linux tablet in 2005, and added cellular telephony to the OS for the first time last year in the N900. It describes the next generation of devices as "step 5 of 5", the first version to be ready for the mass market. Nokia has promised to make it simpler and "more stylish" than its utilitarian and complex predecessors.

Joint ventures rarely inspire confidence, and Meego is at risk from Spork Syndrome (a spork being neither a spoon nor a fork). Meego's parents envisage a wide range of prodct categories for the software ranging from set-top boxes and in-car entertainment systems to smartphones. But with Symbian earmarked for midrange devices, Nokia now has no Plan C - it really can't afford to cock this one up. ®

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