Intel, Nokia Merge Linux Operating Systems to Form MeeGo


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 (s AAPL). 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