Can 3-D Save MeeGo?

Intel (s intc) and Nokia (s nok) announced today the opening of the Intel and Nokia Joint Innovation Center at the University of Oulu, Finland. The new lab will employ two dozen researchers and is aligned with MeeGo, the open source mobile platform formed by the merger earlier this year of Intel’s Moblin Project and Nokia’s Maemo platform. A primary focus of the new labs will be on 3-D and virtual reality mobile interfaces like the YouTube (s goog) example shown below.

Although results of the joint effort aren’t specific to Intel-powered MeeGo handsets from Nokia, it appears as though the two tech giants are trying to position MeeGo as the mobile interface of the future. News of a lab looking at 3-D interfaces doesn’t appear all that ground-breaking, however, as the incumbents in mobile are doing the same: Back in May, for example, Google purchased Bumptop, which could eventually end up on tablets and handhelds. 3-D interfaces haven’t yet taken off on more powerful mobile devices, so it may be too soon to bank hopes on a virtual world in your hand.

In a sense, both Intel and Nokia are doing just that, however, as they flail around trying to position MeeGo as a competitive platform. On a conference call I attended yesterday to announce the lab, both companies touted the 3-D Internet in use on a handheld with sensors and even mentioned possible holograms in the release. It sure sounds like a wonderful future: Intel Atom chips powering Nokia devices for virtual worlds where we can meet, chat and play. It also sounds like a future that mainstream consumers won’t see — or want to see — for several years yet, which isn’t going to help MeeGo find its way against the established platforms of today. Indeed, when I argued that Nokia should abandon MeeGo for Android, part of my thought process was that Nokia hasn’t yet provided a compelling reason why it should continue with MeeGo. As hip as a 3-D, virtual interface sounds, I still don’t see a reason for it.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Mobile OSes Are No Longer Just About Mobile