Nokia software engineer says 'hardware rules,' software follows

Care for a little more insight into Nokia's smartphone development habits? In an email to our pal John Gruber, a former Nokia software engineer has laid out his perspective on why the Finnish phone maker seems to be struggling in that lucrative high-end smartphone market:

"Here's the problem: Hardware Rules at Nokia. The software is written by the software groups inside of Nokia, and it is then given to the hardware group, which gets to decide what software goes on the device, and the environment in which it runs. All schedules are driven by the hardware timelines. It was not uncommon for us to give them code that ran perfectly by their own test, only to have them do things like reduce the available memory for the software to 25% the specified allocation, and then point the finger back at software when things failed in the field."

He goes on to say that Nokia's haughtiness extended to the point of turning an assessment of the iPhone's relative strengths into a list of reasons why it wouldn't succeed, which -- considering that the doc was compiled at around the 3GS' launch -- seems like a distinctly foolish thing to do. The really interesting bit here, though, is where that leaves Nokia today. As far as its Design chief Marko Ahtisaari is concerned, the future's MeeGo all the way, but that new platform was nowhere to be seen at Nokia World this year, and Gruber raises the question of whether Nokia shouldn't perhaps switch to the already ubiquitous Android or soon-to-be-everywhere Windows Phone 7. Neither makes a ton of sense on the surface, as Nokia's proud tradition doesn't exactly mesh with dancing to Microsoft's stringent spec tune or becoming yet another Android phone manufacturer. But in the current fast-moving market, a good smartphone software platform today might just be better than a great one tomorrow -- more to the point, we probably wouldn't be pondering this if Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo was still in charge, but now that a software guy has finally taken the helm, maybe the winds of change might blow once more in Espoo?