Mentions of an internal Nokia project called “Meltemi” have surfaced before, having been noted by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in leaked video during a company meeting, but according to a report by the Wall Street Journal the Finnish mobile giant has begun switching its programming efforts to creating a new software that will power its new low-end phones.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the WSJ says that the project is being headed by Mary McDowell, Nokia’s executive vice president in charge of mobile phones, although the company has declined to comment on the new project or its future plans.

In June, Stephen Elop presented the first Nokia Windows Phone handset – codenamed Sea Ray – to employees in an internal meeting, with footage of the event subsequently leaked (bottom of the article). With Elop showcasing a Nokia N9-like Windows Phone-powered smartphone, the executive continued to detail the company’s plans for its Mobile Phone business, the low-end market which Nokia refers to as “the next billion”.

In mobile phones – it’s very much about “Sonic”, it’s very much about full touch activity that’s going on, it’s about the work we have to do around Series 40 to ensure it continues to help us in the future. It’s the “Clipper” program and the underlying “Meltemi” software effort.

Whilst the new report doesn’t mention what Nokia has planned with its Meltemi project, a memo leaked to The Register in April mentioned that the mobile giant would seek to provide opportunities for its MeeGo engineers with the Meltemi organisation, especially after Nokia had decided it would abandon its development of MeeGo-powered phones.

The memo read:

There will also be opportunities within the Meltemi organization, for personnel working within the MeeGo teams.

We’ve heard before that Nokia is working to bring a touch interface to its Java-based S40 platform and that it is also working hard to port its Qt framework to it. The Meltemi project could be the amalgamation of the above plans, powering Nokia’s low-end, “next billion” handsets that are touch-capable and able to run applications built using its Qt framework – replacing its Series range of devices completely.

If it is confirmed that Nokia is working on bringing low-cost, touch and app enabled handsets to market, it could be a huge step in not only increasing Nokia’s “smart phone” share but also providing consumers in emerging countries with devices that are a lot more capable in their abilities but for less.

We have reached out to seek clarification on the matter, we will update the article should we receive a reply.