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Nokia defectors bring MeeGo back from the dead

A group of former Nokia employees is resurrecting the ill-fated MeeGo, previously seen only on the doomed Nokia N9.

MeeGo may not be gone after all. A group of former Nokia employees has banded together to resurrect the ill-fated operating system -- previously seen only on the doomed Nokia N9 -- ready to create new smart phones powered by MeeGo.

Describing MeeGo as "something wonderful -- the world's best smart phone product", the ex-Nokia staff have banded together to form new startup Jolla -- that's Finnish for 'dinghy', Finnish phoneme fans. The plan is to develop a line of new phones using the MeeGo operating system.

The plucky band of MeeGomeisters is headed by the former principal engineer of MeeGo at Nokia, Marc Dillon, leading a team of top MeeGo talent.

MeeGo was developed by Nokia and Intel as a smart phone operating system to rival Android and iOS. The free, Linux-based OS only appeared on one phone, the N9, before Intel got cold feet and abandoned the platform. Nokia subsequently signed on with Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, paving the way for the Nokia Lumia line-up including the Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 and leaving MeeGo well and truly out in the cold.

From our brief glimpse of MeeGo, we rather liked it. The Nokia N9, pictured above, never came to these shores but we got our hands on it last summer, and there was more to it than a dress rehearsal for the brightly coloured, slickly designed Lumia range -- click play on our video to see MeeGo in action.

Of course, any operating system is only as good as its ecosystem. In other words, for an OS to become popular, there has to be lots of apps -- but in order for developers to be inclined to make lots of apps, the OS has to be popular. Until Jolla can address that by encouraging app developers to make MeeGo apps, it's unlikely to mount a serious challenge to Android and iOS and their app stores stuffed full of cool apps and games.

Then again, not everyone uses loads of apps, so perhaps if the phones are the right price, the right look and the right friendly experience, they could bring MeeGo back in style.

Do you think MeeGo can live again? Can smart phones survive without apps? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.