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Nokia N900 fine-tuned with firmware updates during one-week delay

The Nokia N900 is missing in action as Nokia delays its launch in UK stores by a week as it scrambles to get the software perfected to avoid an N97-style flop

Where in the world is the Nokia N900? We've been drooling over this Maemo-powered smart phone for what feels like forever, but it looks like we'll have to wait a week longer.

We've had our hands on the N900 to preview the Firefox Mobile Web browser, and we've gawked at Nokia's slightly frightening N900 promo video. But we want to see the Linux-based beast on shelves and in pockets, and though it was due to go on sale this week in the UK, it's not likely to be available until next week. A call to Nokia's own online shop, where the N900 is available for pre-order for £499 SIM-free, reveals even it doesn't know what day next week pre-orders are likely to be fulfilled.

Nokia has been quoted saying the delay is because of huge demand, and it's no doubt that Nokia fans are looking to the N900 to be everything the disappointing Nokia N97 was not. Both are powerful smart phones -- the N900 sports an 89mm (3.5-inch) screen, slide-out Qwerty keyboard, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and 32GB of built-in storage. And the fresh, touchscreen-oriented Maemo user interface promises to beat the tired-looking Symbian attempt on the N97.

But there's more to the delay than queues of Nokia-lovers swamping the system. Nokia plans to put Maemo on all of its N-series smart phones by 2012, so it has to get it right.

We've seen evidence that firmware updates for the N900 are still coming fast and furious, as recently as today on our review sample. It's not unusual for smart phones to be pushed out the door and patched up later, but with the weight of expectations for the N900 -- as the saviour of Nokia's reputation for smart phones, and the spearhead for a new generation of Maemo phones -- Nokia isn't taking any chances.

Nokia has already handed out 300 pre-production N900s to developers at the Maemo Summit in October, to get feedback on the user interface and encourage programmers to get cracking on apps for the phone.

We'll update this story when Nokia finally lets us know the exact date you can expect to see the N900 land on your doorstep. In the meantime, stay tuned for our full preview of the N900.