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Nokia N9 starts shipping; U.S. customers out of luck

The MeeGo-based smartphone will set consumers back 480 to 560 euros--that's $649 to $755--depending on the version they're after.

The Nokia N9 is now shipping.

Nokia has finally started shipping its flagship N9 smartphone. But customers in the U.S. won't be able to get their hands on the device.

The Nokia N9 comes with a curved design and 3.9-inch AMOLED display. The device comes in three colors--black, cyan, and magenta--and offers storage of 16GB or 64GB. The handset also boasts an 8-megapixel camera and the ability to capture "HD-quality video."

However, it's the operating system that might deserve the most attention. Rather than Symbian or Windows Phone 7, the Nokia N9 ships with MeeGo. That operating system, which is based on Linux, was supposed to be the future of Nokia's software plans. In an interview with Reuters last year, a Nokia representative had said that the company's flagship "N-series devices will be based on MeeGo" for the foreseeable future.

Related stories:
• Nokia shows off MeeGo-based N9 smartphone
• Nokia's new N9 MeeGo phone (hands-on)
• Report: Nokia N9 coming to the U.S.

That plan was a boon for MeeGo, which is backed by a few companies, including Intel, as it struggled to find a place amid the glut of mobile operating systems available today. But earlier this year in one fell swoop, MeeGo backer's hopes were dashed when Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft that will see Windows Phone become the "principal" operating system on Nokia's smartphones.

An Intel representative said at the time that the company was "disappointed" with Nokia's decision to ink the Microsoft deal. However, she said, that MeeGo is looking to partner with Netbook, tablet, and set-top box vendors.

The N9 is being made available around the world, but the device will be conspicuously missing from U.S. store shelves, even though it cleared FCC regulatory hurdles in July. Nokia didn't say why it won't bring the N9 to the U.S. when it announced availability in August, but the company did tell Engadget at the time that "decisions are based on an assessment of existing and upcoming products that make up Nokia's extensive product portfolio and the best way in which to address local market opportunities."

For people in countries where the the N9 is available, the 16GB model will retail for 480 euros ($649). The 64GB option will cost 560 euros ($755).