Nokia plans another homebrew OS in Meltemi

Nokia's move to Windows Phone isn't the only operating system change to be happening at the company, as news of another homebrew OS developed for lower-end devices begins to emerge.

Reports that Nokia is developing a Linux-based operating system for its low-end featurephones, dubbed Meltemi, throw cold water on the company's claims that its existing homebrew OS Symbian is still positioned to grow in emerging markets.

Meltemi, named for the dry summer winds that blow across the sea to Greece, is to be built on a Linux platform and will likely replace Symbian as the company's platform of choice for its cheaper devices.

It's a radical move from the company, and one which suggests Nokia is hoping it's third time lucky: while it has all but abandoned its flagship operating system Symbian, the release of its first MeeGo-powered smartphone - born from an amalgamation of Nokia's own Maemo platform and Intel's Moblin distribution - comes with the news that it will also be the last.

MeeGo itself is transforming into Tizen, an open source platform for Linux-based mobile devices, while Symbian languishes a victim of the Finnish company's deal with Microsoft - a deal brokered, incidentally, by ex-Microsoftie Stephen Elop - to use Windows Phone on its flagship devices.

It's hard to see why Nokia is going back to the drawing board and developing yet another new operating system. While Symbian may be outclassed in the smartphone market, a modified version of the operating system would make a perfectly good basis for featurephone devices. If Nokia is insistent on cutting a new path, a move to Tizen would give it third-party support from the likes of Intel.

To create yet another homebrew operating system - joining the dying Symbian and the pretty much dead Maemo and MeeGo platforms - seems folly, and thus far the company has refused to comment on rumour and conjecture. Sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal have confirmed the project's existence, but were no more forthcoming with the reasoning behind it than our own contacts.