Nokia's N900 Starts Shipping: Can Maemo 5 Topple The iPhone?

It has been quite some time since Nokia issued a smartphone that was reasonably competitive with the slew of Android handsets on the market, Apple's iPhone and Palm's Pre. Granted, the company has never really had a huge foothold in the North American smartphone market, but with market share slipping away in other parts of the world, it's apparently looking to pick things back up with the N900.

The N900 represents a huge leap of faith for Nokia. It's the company's first smartphone based around the new Maemo 5 operating system, and it's the first OS that has been designed to really rival the other modern-day systems on phones today. In fact, Nokia calls this a "mobile computer," and starting right now, consumers can find 'em in stores for around 500 Euros (without a contract). The real question is how will this do without support from a carrier? No major operating in the US will be subsidizing this phone, so folks will have to spring for an unlocked (expensive) version to use on either T-Mobile or AT&T. We're guessing it won't be as well as the iPhone, but it's not like that's a big stretch.

At the heart of the Nokia N900 is its powerful ARM Cortex-A8 processor and up to 1GB of total application memory.  Users can browse the internet the way they would on any computer and keep dozens of application windows open simultaneously on the dashboard. The panoramic desktops in the Nokia N900 can be personalized with widgets, contacts and shortcuts. Pictures and videos taken with the 5Mpx Carl Zeiss camera automatically show where they were taken, and users can add their own description tags to make searching the photos even easier. SMS and instant messages are organized as chat flow and people can convenienty switch between the multiple conversation windows. The built-in 32 GB storage is big enough to store up to 7,000 songs or 40 hours of DVD-quality video, and it can be expanded up to 48GB with an external microSD card.
Nokia works closely with the developer community and has recently seen significant innovation happening with Maemo. As a result, people will be able to discover a wide range of games, utilities, themes, panoramic wallpapers and service plug-ins for photo-sharing and messaging for the Nokia N900 through Ovi Store and Maemo Select, starting later in the year. In October Nokia announced official Qt port to Maemo 5. This means developers can use Qt software to target the Nokia N900 and that applications can be easily ported to all Qt's supported platforms including the next Maemo 6 release as well as Symbian.
The Nokia N900 will initially be available in Europe, Middle-East, Russia and North America. It is also possible to order the device from the Nokia Online Store: