Intel Says Adios MeeGo, Hello Tizen In Mobile OS Move


The MeeGo era has come to a close less than two years after the open source mobile operating system was first unveiled.

Intel announced Tuesday that it had joined the Linux Foundation and LiMo Foundation in supporting a brand new Linux-based software platform called Tizen. According to Intel, Tizen is a standards-based project that will feature a flexible Web development environment for HTML5 and WAC for multiple device categories.

"Tizen builds upon the strengths of both LiMo and MeeGo, and Intel will be working with our MeeGo partners to help them transition to Tizen," wrote Intel spokesperson Suzy Greenberg in a blog post Tuesday. "The initial release of Tizen is expected in Q1 ’2012, enabling the first devices in the market [in] mid-2012."

The chip giant's decision brings an end to the troubled development history of MeeGo, a mobile OS project first introduced at Mobile World Congress in 2010 and jointly developed by Intel and Nokia. The mobile OS was a combination of Intel's Linux-based Moblin platform for Atom-based devices and the Nokia-supported Maemo mobile OS. The two vendors expected MeeGo to rival Google's Android OS and once predicted the platform would be "adopted widely" by device manufacturers and developers.

However, about a year after the mobile OS was announced, Nokia pulled out of the MeeGo alliance and announced a major alliance with Microsoft centered on Windows Phone 7. Intel was disappointed with Nokia's decision, but the chip maker continued promoting MeeGo as recently as the Intel Developer Forum 2001 earlier this month. Intel CEO Paul Otellini even said MeeGo was "alive and well in our embedded business" during a Q&A with reporters at the event.

But the MeeGo platform failed to catch on like Android. As a result, Intel switched mobile OS horses in an effort to gain more ground against Android. In a post on MeeGo's community blog , Imad Souou, director of Intel's Open Source Technology Center, explained why Intel dropped MeeGo in favor of developing a totally new open source mobile platform.

"So it begs the question: why not just evolve MeeGo?," Sousou wrote Tuesday. "We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5. Shifting to HTML5 doesn't just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment."

Sousou stated that the Tizen project will be very similar to MeeGo; Tizen will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and will support multiple device categories from smartphones and tablets to smart TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems. Tizen also will be supported by Samsung.

"Over the next couple of months, we will be working very hard to make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen," Sousou wrote, "and I will be working even harder to make sure that developers of MeeGo can also transition to Tizen."