Unreleased Nokia Lauta QWERTY slider emerges, shows the MeeGo future that never was

Those of us who remember Nokia's late-stage MeeGo phone development will recall how the dreams fell apart: we got the N9 and the developer-tuned N950, but the future grew dark almost immediately as Nokia swung its attention further towards Windows Phone. If MyNokiaBlog's prototype leak is accurate, however, the engineers in Espoo had planned at least one more MeeGo phone for the general public: meet the Lauta, or RM-742. It would have been an "immediate" follow-up to the N9 that brought a tilting, sliding QWERTY keyboard to the party, with performance identical to its touch-only sibling. Nokia was reportedly committed enough that it had fully functional prototypes and had penciled in a fall 2011 release to give the N9 some company. We don't really know why Nokia scrapped the Lauta, although it's not difficult to surmise that the company wanted to simplify its lineup at a time when profits were falling fast. The real tragedy may not be so much the decision to axe the Lauta as the absence of a true heir to what it represented -- between Nokia's public silence and recent departures from the relevant software team, MeeGo's future is more in doubt than ever.