Intel, Nokia Attempt to Woo Developers for MeeGo Handsets and Netbooks

The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, a 3-day event for open source developers and mobile partners, kicks off today. Among the various agenda topics are both a keynote and multiple workshop sessions devoted to MeeGo, the platform created when Intel’s Moblin project and Nokia’s Maemo operating system merged at February’s Mobile World Congress. With the workshop sessions, Intel (s intc) and Nokia (s nok) are fighting for the attention of developers, much like other platforms are, as exemplified with the Twitter and Facebook programmer events as well as Apple (s aapl) and its new iPhone 4.0 OS. So why might a developer be interested in MeeGo?
For starters, MeeGo offers opportunities in both the smartphone and the netbook or tablet space. There are two MeeGo user experience frameworks — one for handsets and one for netbooks — but applications designed for MeeGo aren’t constrained to one device type. While smartphone software could require visual adjustment to run on the larger display of a netbook, for example, the software itself is created with Qt, a cross-platform development tool. Think of Qt, which Nokia purchased in January 2008, like Java’s (s orcl) write-once, run-anywhere approach. Nokia’s VP of MeeGo devices, Ari Jaaksi, explains the benefits best in a interview from earlier this morning:

“Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework used by hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide looking to create amazing user experiences on Windows, Mac, Linux, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Maemo devices. Qt will be the primary application framework for MeeGo and both Intel and Nokia are committing their investment in it.  For developers interested in MeeGo, Qt helps increase the scope for their applications and services across multiple platforms, all using consistent application APIs.”

Two more carrots dangling in front of potential MeeGo developers are the Linux tie-ins and application stores. Intel’s documentation from its Beijing Developer Forum, also in progress now, points out MeeGo support for potentially thousands of native Linux software titles. And those titles targeted for MeeGo, as well as those built with the Qt framework will be available through two partner storefronts. The Intel App Up store offers software for netbooks, while Nokia is leveraging its Ovi store for handset titles. The Ovi store shelves were a little bare when I last checked on Nokia’s Maemo-powered N900 handset, so the handset maker is looking to boost the available titles.
MeeGo devices are expected in the second half of this year and 27 partners ranging from Acer to Xandros are expressing support. Notable members of the partner list include high-profile software shops like EA Mobile (s erts) and Gameloft (s gft). But industry friends alone won’t turn MeeGo into a contender against the likes of Apple, Google (s goog) and others with established mobile platforms. As Stacey alluded last summer in her interview with Peter Farago, the VP of mobile analytics firm Flurry, developers are the new kingmakers. The programmers attending this week’s Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit will likely decide if MeeGo gains a royal crown or simply becomes a mobile bard just passing through.

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Images courtesy of Intel