The Competition: MeeGo [OSCON2010] 11
Development of MeeGo, the operating system that's the result of the marriage of Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo platforms, is pushing ahead full steam. Being that its a Linux based open source project, I've been able to catch a few presentations and even handle some preproduction hardware and software here at OSCON. It's been relegated to netbooks so far in its short time on the market, but its set to hit handsets in October of this year. It's more similar to Android in terms of how it'll be distributed (and it'll likely be just as open), but there are similarities to webOS in terms of what developers can do with the platform.
Like Android and webOS, MeeGo is designed to scale across any number of connected form factors. As mentioned above, MeeGo can only be found on netbooks currently, but the organization promises a 6 month release cadence, meaning that a handset-centric build of the OS will be available in October with version 1.1. And to increase the range of devices the operating system can be deployed on, Intel mentioned that it'll work on both ARM and x86 architectures during one of the sessions I attended here at OSCON - something that should also be possible with webOS.
It'll be interesting to see how the smartphone market will adopt MeeGo this fall. With a good number of OEMs already hard at work developing the next generation of Android and Windows 7 phones, MeeGo is going to have a very difficult time breaking into the market in a meaningful way as rapidly as it needs to in order to avoid being an also-ran. I'm also convinced that the vertically integrated approach enjoyed by Apple, RIM, and soon HP, is the one that offers the best value proposition to consumers and the best profit proposition as a business practice. But who knows, maybe Intel will side step that issue by making its own hardware - the tech did giant just had Michael Bell, who was previously Palm's SVP of Product Development, join the company as director of Smartphone Product Development in the company's Ultra Mobility Group (UMG).
Hit the break for a very brief video of a pre-alpha handset build of MeeGo running on an engineering prototype at the Intel booth. You'll get a feel for the basic UI, but there's a lot missing - clicking on the calendar icon brings you to a screen that's a placeholder for the actual calendar app - and you'll see an early build of Fennec running on the device.