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Nokia N9-01 MeeGo handset could be announced today, but N9-00 is canned

MeeGo's future is in doubt following Nokia's announcement that it will support Windows Phone 7. Nevertheless, Nokia could be set to announce its first commercial MeeGo handset today at Mobile World Congress.

Nokia's recent decision to adopt Windows Phone 7 as its primary smart-phone platform has thrown up plenty of thorny questions. Not least among them is whether Nokia and Intel's joint MeeGo operating system has a real future. Despite widespread expectations that it will be mothballed eventually, it seems Nokia could announce its next MeeGo device as soon as today.

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop said on Friday that a MeeGo product would be launched this year. Now TechCrunch Europe's source has claimed the product is code-named the N9-01, and that it's a touchscreen device without a physical keyboard, but with a user interface designed by "a three person external team rather than any of Nokia's hundreds of internal designers".

The source suggested the device could be announced at Nokia's Mobile World Congress press conference tonight. But, if the device is indeed the N9-01, what happened to the N9-00, which was expected to be the first MeeGo device to go on sale? TechCrunch's source confirmed earlier reports that the handset has been canned, suggesting operators rejected the N9-00 because of a "flimsy" keyboard mechanism.

One of the big problems for MeeGo now is that developers may shy away from creating apps and games for it, if they feel Nokia isn't really behind the platform.

Owners of Windows Phone 7 handsets stand to benefit most from Nokia's decision to support Microsoft's mobile operating system -- all of them, not just owners of future Nokia devices. Mobile analytics company Flurry, whose technology is used by thousands of app and game developers, has said it measured 66 per cent more Windows Phone 7 'project starts' this week than in the week before.

What does that mean? It means a bunch of developers listened to Elop and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer's announcement, and immediately fired up their Windows Phone 7 development tools.

Whatever the hardware specs, a smart phone or tablet nowadays is only as good as its apps. Flurry's findings are good news for Windows Phone 7 owners, who should see a rise in available apps in a few months' time. But, if Nokia doesn't announce the N9-01 today and talk it up, MeeGo could see more developers heading off to work on rival operating systems.