Intel and Nokia launch MeeGo

Open source OS built on Moblin and Maemo

OUT OF THE BLUE, Intel and Nokia announced that they’re working on a new open source Linux based operating system called MeeGo that builds on Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo platforms. This was the only joint announcement at the Mobile World Congress and we’re slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a new x86 based CPU.

Still, MeeGo has a lot of potential, at least if Intel and Nokia can convince other hardware manufacturers to make use of MeeGo on their devices. The fact that the platform is open source should make it a lot more appealing and it will also make it a lot more customizable. Another appealing feature is that it comes with something called Qt built in, which makes it easier to port apps across devices and platforms. Supposedly MeeGo apps will be easy to port to Symbian thanks to Qt, so there shouldn’t be any need to rewrite applications, yet the same app will run on multiple platforms.

Intel said that all of its 17 Moblin partners will migrate to MeeGo and on Nokia’s side MeeGo will coexist with Symbian, just as Maemo has. Intel and Nokia are hoping for new types of devices that will run MeeGo, although there was no mention of any devices during the press conference. Application development for the new release of Maemo is said to be fully compatible with MeeGo, however, Nokia hasn’t decided if Maemo 6 will be renamed MeeGo or not. MeeGo will of course support both x86 and ARM powered devices.

Intel and Nokia are targeting a broad range of devices ranging from Netbooks to ‘pocketables’, in-vehicle devices and connected TVs. The main difference is what is referred to as a User Experience layer, or UX. This is what makes MeeGo work differently depending on the device in question and it also contains the device specific UI and framework. This seems like a very clever way of doing things, but we’ll have to wait until the second quarter to find out how well it works, as that is when the first release of MeeGo is set to launch.

MeeGo is an interesting development, but we’re not sure how big of a market share it’ll be able to gain, especially as a lot of Nokia’s competitors are likely to shy away. We’re also curious as to how many devices Nokia will launch based on MeeGo, as it’s not as if Nokia is pushing Maemo very hard at the moment. Open source or not, we think MeeGo is going to have an uphill battle to gain market share, not least because Google’s Android OS is gaining popularity, not only in a wide range of devices, but also from more and more manufacturers.S|A

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