Tizen: Can Intel And Samsung’s New OS Project Fly Where MeeGo Did Not?

Yesterday, we wrote that Intel was reportedly looking to take its MeeGo OS project into a new stage of collaboration post-Nokia’s move to Windows Phone, by partnering with the folks behind the Limo Foundation — namely Samsung, its most prominent member. Today, we now know what that new venture will be called: Tizen.

Tizen will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and development of the open-source OS will be led jointly by Samsung and Intel (NSDQ: INTC).

Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, writes in a blog post that like MeeGo, the Tizen platform will focus on HTML5-based applications and the aim will be for it work on “a variety of device types.”

MeeGo, he notes, will continue on as a project at the Linux Foundation, although it seems that it will try to promote Tizen as the next step forward. To that end, MeeGo code will be “carried over to Tizen,” which presumably will mean that developers for the older platform will be able to just as easily develop for the latter.

Does all of the above ring a bell to you? It’s not dissimilar to what Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Intel cooked up with they mashed up Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo into MeeGo.

What might be different here is that Samsung has already been developing smartphones and tablets on other companies’ operating systems — namely, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Even its feature phone OS, Bada, is based on another company’s proprietary kernel, the Nucleus RTOS. It has been talking for some time of developing something that it can call its own.

Nokia, in contrast, was coming from a different place. It already had an OS, Symbian, which the company saw was not performing as well as it should. Nokia’s new CEO, Stephen Elop, himself ex-Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), concluded that it would have cost too much, and taken too much time, to recreate a second system of its own with MeeGo — hence the relatively quick decision to move to WP7.

Putting these two together, Samsung has some very workable operating systems under its belt — three in fact — that it can continue to use while it tries to stir up its own homemade concoction.

That’s the theory, at least. In reality, it could prove just as difficult (impossible?) for Samsung and Intel to make a go of Tizen as it was for Nokia and Intel with MeeGo.

Some initial responses have been particularly caustic. One example:

“Intel and the Linux Foundation have shown that they can’t get the job done. I don’t see why anybody should give a crap about Tizen,” wrote Ryan Paul, the open source editor for Ars Technica.

We’ll have to wait and see how serious all this will be. The first release of the OS will be due out in Q1 2012, and the aim is for the first device to be out by mid-2012. No detail as to what that device might be, but at least those dates give us a deadline by which to start to judge whether or not Tizen will fly.