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Nokia (s nok) may have relegated the MeeGo platform to experimental status, but LG is hedging its Android (s goog) bet with the open-source platform. Next month at the MeeGo Conference, LG is holding a session to show developers how to port MeeGo 1.2 to LG devices, according to a schedule found by the MeeGo Experts site. The information points to LG showing off hardware that runs on the mobile operating system as well. Created by the merger of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin (s nok) (s intc), MeeGo may be used for netbooks, tablets, smartphones and other devices. Why would LG be interested in MeeGo, when it has already embraced Android?
One only has to look at Samsung and LG’s smartphone market share for the answer to that. Samsung invested heavily in using Google’s Android operating system, and that bet has paid off nicely. Last year, the company sold more than 10 million of its Galaxy S phones that run on Android, as it continued to be No. 2 in global handset sales. A number of tablets and an updated Galaxy S handset have or are arriving from Samsung, as well. But Samsung knows it’s one of many Android hardware partners ,and has hedged its bet on its own operating system in the form of Bada.
While Samsung has sold more phones of late, LG hasn’t. According to Strategy Analytics, LG’s total handset volume dropped to 24.5 million sales in the first quarter of this year, compared to 27.1 million in the same quarter of 2010. Last September, LG’s CEO of the mobile device division resigned over poor performance as the handset maker failed to quickly transition from feature phones to more powerful smartphones. A handful of new Android phones and tablets are set to reverse the declining sales trend, but a fresh smartphone platform could help too.
Using MeeGo for mobile devices isn’t necessarily the safest hedge against LG becoming another “me too” Android device maker though. Because the MeeGo platform is open source, other companies besides LG can use it. Essentially, if MeeGo takes off, LG could be another “me too” MeeGo player, which won’t allow the company to differentiate itself. The other challenge lies within MeeGo itself as a platform and ecosystem. With 44 billion mobile apps expected to be downloaded in the next five years, late-comers to the app store economy have the odds stacked against them. More established ecosystems will have the mindshare of both developers and consumers.
Still, it will be interesting to see what plans LG has for MeeGo devices and software. After watching MeeGo develop over the last year or more, it’s about time we see what it can do, for consumers, for LG, and perhaps even for Intel, which is still trying to get its chips inside pocketable devices and tablets.