Nokia and Intel launch open-source mobile OS, MeeGo

Intel and Nokia today announced MeeGo, an open-source mobile OS designed to lure iPhone and Android app developers to a host of other devices. MeeGo is a Linux-based merger of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo mobile platforms. The announcement was timed to the start of the Mobile World Congress wireless industry conference in Barcelona, Spain.

MeeGo is meant to work not only on phones, but on netbooks, entry-level desktop computers, in-vehicle systems for automobiles, and Internet-connected TV sets.

MeeGo is an open source Linux project. The website set up for the project promises these benefits:

  • Performance optimizations, because speed matters on mobile devices.
  • Support for computationally intense, graphically oriented applications and connected services that will be developed by third parties.
  • “No-compromise Internet standards,” meaning MeeGo plans to work with nearly all websites built to well-known technical standards.

Will it fly? I’m not going to predict that an open-source code base will guarantee a hit for MeeGo. But like Google’s Android operating system, open-source status will make it easier and more encouraging for many third-party developers to build applications for MeeGo than for, say, Apple’s iPhone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Android apps ported to MeeGo.

MeeGo’s real clout is that it’s backed by the world’s largest chip manufacturer and the world’s largest mobile handset maker. Unless MeeGo flops as badly as Intel’s Viiv multimedia platform, there’ll be plenty of MeeGo users out there to offer apps and services to.

For now, Intel and Nokia are marketing MeeGo to developers, not consumers. This video from MeeGo’s technical steering group is aimed at persuading app developers to sign up.

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