Carriers refuse to subsidize Nokia's Z500
Bad news for MeeGo has oozed out over the grapevine today. While the promising OS has yet to see a mainstream product launch, Nokia is working hard to change that. The Z500 is believed to be both Nokia's first slate and the first MeeGo tablet. It is believed to be either 7" or 9" and will likely be ARM-based.
Eldar Murtazin has some doubts about the Z500 though. He send out a tweet early today announcing that the "Nokia tablet is under question." The reason? Apparently, "Operators aren't glad with price".
Since the burden of subsidy usually rests on the carriers, this balking is very significant. Many customers are willing to drop $200-300 on a subsidized device with a contract, but unwilling to spend two or three times that on an unlocked device. If no carrier will eat the Z500's price, every bit of that will be up to the consumer.
Nokia makes good devices, but they aren't Apple. Customers aren't going to line up outside Nokia shops in the driving rain to drop more than $500 on a totally unproven tablet. Especially not one with an OS that is totally new.
On the upside? If Nokia is this close to launching their tablet, MeeGo 1.2 may be nearing release. Either that, or Nokia plans to launch the Z500 with a heavily customized version of 1.1. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I can tell you that the current version of MeeGo is not ready for a commercial tablet.
I've spent several hours over the last week fiddling with mine to make it more productive. So far, I've been able to add in an onscreen keyboard and get Open Office working. I also installed the GIMP app, which allows me to do most of the photo-editing needed for my work. As it stands, my MeeGo IdeaPad is a fully functional productivity tablet.
But it still isn't close to ideal. App-switching in MeeGo is slow and kind of buggy. I shouldn't have to alt+tab to cycle tasks without painful lag-spikes. It'd also be nice if my on-screen keyboard didn't pop up CONSTANTLY. But I'm willing to deal with the annoyance because MeeGo is cool and new and because I'm not happy unless I have something shiny to fiddle with.
Joe Consumer feels differently. He wants something easy, something that works out of box. If the Z500 is close to ready, MeeGo may finally be nearing that point. I guess we'll learn for sure when (and if) a carrier ever decides this thing is worth subsidizing.