Some Life Left In MeeGo Yet? LG, ZTE Reportedly Interested

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Some of the mobile industry left MeeGo for dead when Nokia (NYSE: NOK) announced it would be focussing the bulk of its software development on integrating Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). But apparently there are some OEMs that could be interested in developing smartphones on the platform. Is this just speculation or something that can actually translate into a new device?

The report today, in Reuters, notes that LG (SEO: 066570) has joined a new working group dedicated to making a version of MeeGo that would work on smartphones. Others that are involved include ZTE and China Mobile, it said.

The report further seems to imply that MeeGo might even have more of a future than ever before, since other handset makers were uninterested in the platform when the mighty Nokia was still involved. Nokia pulling back from MeeGo is “opening opportunities for the others to come in…You’ll see things coming out this year,” according to Valtteri Halla, a member of technical steering group of MeeGo, speaking to a developer conference in Finland today.

MeeGo was formed in 2010, after Nokia and Intel (NSDQ: INTC) combined its respective Maemo and Moblin Linux OS efforts. At the time, there had been high hopes for tablets and other devices using the OS although very little has come of that so far. Nokia is still, however, expected to roll out its one and only MeeGo device this year.

How likely is it that another platform will come on the scene? Given that smartphones still make up less than 20 percent of the overall mobile market worldwide, based on Gartner’s figures, there is still a lot of room for growth.

Android has become a hugely popular platform, but with is growth also comes the issue of it being more difficult for handset makers to differentiate themselves on it. If handset makers had at their disposal another OS, that was also free to license, and also gave people the integrated experience that the top smartphones today offer users, then certainly there could be a shot for it.

But in my recent experience of the platform, looking at tablets running MeeGo, the OS looked somewhat unfinished, and still seems like it has a long way to go before it will be able to compete with existing heavy hitters like Android, iOS from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), WP7, RIM’s QNX/BlackBerry OS’s and even Symbian and WebOS — although one is apparently on its way out and the other has only just taken off and hung up its coat.

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Sander van der Wal

MeeGo uses Qt as its UI API. Qt is owned by Nokia, and Nokia is paying for its continuing development. Qt is also Nokia new UI API for Symbian, and Nokia is publicly pushing developers to support Qt on Symbian.

This leads to a strategic problem, IMHO. Nokia is now subsidizing its competitors by paying for a UI that will compete with their upcoming WP platform. And it is offering their Symbian developers a way out to a competing ecosystem too. How can this be good for Nokia? Why is is a good idea for LG?

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