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Summary:

Intel and Nokia are merging their respective mobile Linux Operating Systems — Mobilin and Maemo — to form a new OS called MeeGo. It will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and target connected devices. And it will be fighting for increasingly limited developer attention.

Intel_Nokia_Paul_Otellini_Olli-Pekka_Kallasvuo_lowres.jpeg

Photo courtesy of Nokia. Paul Otellini, President & Chief Executive Officer, Intel and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, President and CEO, Nokia.

By now you might have heard that Intel and Nokia are merging their respective mobile Linux Operating Systems — Mobilin and Maemo. The merged effort is going to be called MeeGo. It will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and is targeting the whole universe of connected devices.

Here are some notable bits from the Nokia press release:

* MeeGo will support multiple hardware architectures across the broadest range of device segments, including pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, mediaphones, connected TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems.
* MeeGo offers the Qt application development environment, and builds on the capabilities of the Moblin core operating system and reference user experiences.
* Developers can write once to create applications for a variety of devices and platforms, and market them through Nokia’s Ovi Store and Intel AppUpSM Center.
* MeeGo will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.
* The first release of MeeGo is expected in the second quarter of 2010 with devices launching later in the year.

The guys from The Linux Foundation are pretty excited about this. In a blog post, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the foundation, writes:

MeeGo isn’t just an important project at the Linux Foundation, it is also helpful for Linux as a platform. It combines mobile development resources that were recently split in the Maemo and Moblin projects into one well-supported, well-designed project that addresses cross-platform, cross-device and cross-architecture development. Android, ChromeOS, the Palm Pre, Bada, and dozens of traditional Linux desktop efforts use many of the components in MeeGo.

He goes on to give his reasons why he sees MeeGo as a major step forward, and better than iPad-type closed systems.

Closed platforms (like Apple’s iPad) drive up costs for consumers and limit hardware choice. MeeGo is multi-architecture and can power a broad range of devices from your TV to your car to your pocketable computer to your phone. Consumers can keep their apps and use different devices from different producers.

I’m not sure if this is going to really impact Apple. I bet this effort causes some problems with other embedded Linux OS vendors. Unlike Zemlin, I don’t think this will gain as much traction.

Why? Because the merged OS is coming to the market at a time when there is already increased demand on an increasingly precious resource: developer attention. The lack of developer attention is one of the reason why Maemo and Mobilin have not been able to get any serious traction outside their own organizations. The developers — who have multiple choices — decide which platforms succeed and which ones become roadkill. For now, developers are betting on Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android.

Related research report from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The App Developer’s Guide to Choosing a Mobile Platform

  1. The developers — who have multiple choices — decide which platforms succeed

    Agreed… there are just too many mobile software platforms for developers to choose from. After Apple, Android is a very pleasant environment… I’m not sure Qt/C++ is when there are so many SDKs/languages to write in already.

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  2. The developers — who have multiple choices — decide which platforms succeed

    Is it only the developers who decide which platforms succeed ? What if Nokia ropes in Samsung, LG, Sony-Ericcson, Asus, Acer etc? The CE brands could play king-maker too. Let me stir the hornet’s nest a bit – Yes, apps seems to be making the world go round these days..but remember that this world of downloaded apps is extremely small. The average iPhone user has no more than a handful of icons on her screen. And the average phone user (now looking at the entire world) has ZERO downloaded apps on his phone, and probably has no plans to download any either. Yes, he downloads content and pays for it, sometime even obscene sums. But over 90% of the worlds’ phone users donot download apps.

    The world of mobile phones is going Linux – with it comes the natural expectation that additional software, if required at all, should come free. Free as in beer. Talk to the vendors (like MTK) to get a reality check. The fancy world of nifty apps is a boutique concept that will never make sense for the markets at large.

    The article does ask a pertinent question though – Why Meego? Especially when android has had a headstart of over 2+ years and with the Google brand behind it? The again, it is not developers who decide – it is the CE bands who do. If the CE brands fall in love with Android (as they currently have), then Meego has tough luck. But if Nintel (Nokia + Intel) can push Meego (like Wintel did to PCs)…then the android could well take the route of the unix tower of babel…Fat chance, but then there is no crystal ball.

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    1. “The fancy world of nifty apps is a boutique concept that will never make sense for the markets at large.”

      You really characterize the most successful and emulated software platform innovation in years as a boutique concept?

      Saying 90% of phones do not download apps today is very much like saying 90% of PCs do not connect to the World Wide Web… if this was something like 1993. A true fact that completely ignores very obvious technology trends.

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  3. I think Om and Cheese are both right. Developer attention cycles are critical. At the same time, apps are indeed relatively boutique even though Apple’s PR machine would like us to think otherwise (Steve Jobs cackling about the millions of apps downloads, etc. is kind of a red herring because people’s own time and attention is limited so how many apps does a person really find useful in a given day or week?). What’s exciting is the rest of the world (the 90% or whatever) that hasn’t yet purchased a smart phone and the type of specific applications that could be developed for these lightweight communications devices (but much of that success also depends on the mobile infrastructure such as for high availability — you want a push app to notify you of some important piece of information that is critical to your business or life, well that cloud based push notification service better be working 24×7 and the network switches such as LTE or whate have you better be within reach of your mobile device to make it useful).

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  4. We can not said it as a lack of developers attention
    because their are lots of advantages of collobration.
    It may take birth of new technologied in the field of
    mobile application development.It also accelerate the
    intelegence of the developer of both organization.No
    matter it is good for the both organization or not,but
    hopes better for we people………

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