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The 'oh sh_t' moment that Nokia decided to abandon MeeGo

Bloomberg Businessweek just published an amazingly thorough piece on Nokia, pre- and post-Elopcalypse. We've long wondered how MeeGo, an OS that Stephen Elop himself said "inspires both confidence and excitement" in October 2010, could be cast aside so quickly in favor of Windows Phone, an OS still struggling to find traction in the heated smartphone market. Well, now we know. Bloomberg recounts a January 3rd meeting between Nokia's Chief Development Officer Kai Oistämö and Nokia's freshman CEO. After Kai expressed his concern with MeeGo's ability to effectively respond to Apple's iOS and Android operating systems, the two decided to interview two dozen "influential employees" about MeeGo, ranging from execs to engineers. Here's how Bloomberg recounts the events that followed:

Before the first interview, Elop drew out what he knew about the plans for MeeGo on a whiteboard, with a different color marker for the products being developed, their target date for introduction, and the current levels of bugs in each product. Soon the whiteboard was filled with color, and the news was not good: At its current pace, Nokia was on track to introduce only three MeeGo-driven models before 2014-far too slow to keep the company in the game. Elop tried to call Oistämö, but his phone battery was dead. "He must have been trying an Android phone that day," says Elop. When they finally spoke late on Jan. 4, "It was truly an oh-s--t moment-and really, really painful to realize where we were," says Oistämö. Months later, Oistämö still struggles to hold back tears. "MeeGo had been the collective hope of the company," he says, "and we'd come to the conclusion that the emperor had no clothes. It's not a nice thing."

Nokia is now on track to release at least one Windows Phone handset in 2011 with a dozen more in 2012.

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