NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

, adrift strategically and awash in competition from

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

, has grabbed

Intel's

(INTC) - Get Report

drowning mobile hand.

Looking for a clean break from its ruinous smartphone effort, Nokia said good-bye to its tech chief Charles Davies and pledged its full allegiance to a new superphone operating system: MeeGo,

a joint effort with Intel

that was announced a year ago.

Nokia N8

Nokia, which has made a wonderful mess of its high-end phone business, has introduced the

Nokia N8,

TheStreet Recommends

a 12-megapixel wonderphone

aimed directly at Apple

.

But history will likely show this to be Symbian's highest and probably last achievement.

Now that Davies, a Psion pioneer and a Symbian champion, has left for GPS shop

Tom Tom

, Nokia's got a big reset on its hands, with a new direction and presumably new design talent.

Nokia says it plans to keep Symbian as its mid-range smartphone system and move its next N series phones to MeeGo.

The move is a farewell to Nokia's unhappy legacy of smartphone slipups.

The challenge:

Nokia and Intel have a lot in common. Both tech giants have failed to make any headway in the smartphone industry being led by Apple, Google,

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

and

ARM Holdings

(ARMH)

. Ditching Symbian for MeeGo leaves Nokia at the starting line for application development and three years behind a market that's decisively split between iPhones and Androids.

The opportunity:

Nokia has dramatically lost the race in Web-friendly touchscreen smartphones. And though a three-year lag has been destructive and possibly fatal, a successful restart might be the only viable plan at this point.

The upshot:

Investors love picking through the wreckage but until MeeGo is a go, there's no point jumping in.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.