Don’t Count MeeGo Out Yet: Report Says Samsung, Others To Join Intel

Update: Our story on the new venture led by Intel (NSDQ: INTC) and Samsung, Tizen, is here. Original post from Tuesday follows below.

On the day that Nokia (NYSE: NOK) started to ship the N9 — the first and possibly only smartphone that it will make built on MeeGo, a report emerges that indicates the OS may still have a life long beyond Nokia’s involvement with it. Intel is apparently gearing up to announce a MeeGo partnership with the Limo Foundation, whose members include Samsung, Panasonic and NEC.

The report, published in FT Deutschland, does not include confirmation from any of the companies involved. As the MeeGo Experts blog points out, the news comes one day before Intel holds its annual developer event, Intel AppUp Elements, to be held in Seattle on September 28 and 29.

Samsung getting involved in MeeGo would make for an interesting twist to the whole smartphone/OS race. The company was already rumored to be looking at ways of developing its own smartphone OS, and was even mentioned as a would-be buyer of HP’s WebOS operating system, now left out in the cold after HP (NYSE: HPQ) said it would discontinue making devices on the platform.

Last week it emerged that Samsung had plans to make its own Bada OS, used in its feature phones, open source.

A tie-up on MeeGo could give it a shot to make MeeGo the underpinning framework for Bada, which currently sits on top of a proprietary platform, the Nucleus real time operating system kernel, owned by Mentor Graphics.

Aside from smartphones, the touchscreen-friendly MeeGo was always also viewed as a possible OS for tablets. According to the FT Deutschland article, Gartner estimates that in 2011 there will be some 476,000 tablets sold using the MeeGo OS from OEMs such as Acer. That works out to a market share of less than one percent, the article notes.

And therein lies the issue: Although a lifeline for MeeGo would be great news for Intel — which hopes to use the OS as a route to pushing its processing business — it doesn’t erase many of the challenges that any new OS would face in a market largely dominated by Android and iOS, with growing presence from large and well-funded competition from Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Although having a large handset maker like Samsung on board might help.