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Why MeeGo Matters


The Beginning

MeeGo is the love child of Intel and Nokia. In early 2010 the two companies announced their plans to combine their respective Moblin and Maemo efforts into one platform MeeGo. Intel wanted it to bring smart technology into new places where their atom chips had never been before. Places like smart TV’s, in-car entertainment systems, mobile phones and tablets. Nokia wanted it to lift its high end smart phone range up from the now dated Symbian platform to try and claw back market share from Apple and their dominance with the iPhone.
A few months later MeeGo 1.0 was released to a reasonably good reception and the platform started to gain traction. Sure there were a lot of bugs identified but it showed promise. MeeGo 1.1 was released in October 2010 and people stared to see potential with developer devices springing up and the hacker community putting the open source project onto many Android powered devices. Hype started to build as people awaited the first Nokia phone to be released running MeeGo (the Nokia N900 was already running MeeGo but only as a developers device).

The Elopocalypse

At the Mobile World Conference in February, Nokia hosted an event that speculators and industry analysts thought would be the announcement of the first Nokia phone running MeeGo. Instead the new CEO Steven Elop an ex Microsoft executive announced that Symbian was to be phased out and replaced with Windows Phone 7. MeeGo was left as a side project and six months later there is still no Nokia Widows Phone 7 and no MeeGo phone either. But strangely more Symbian phones have hit the shelves.

MeeGo 1.2 and onwards

The MeeGo community was left shaken but undeterred. The media has been less friendly partially due to Nokia supplementation of MeeGo with Windows Phone7. Intel pushes on regardless and has unveiled plans for an ever-expanding platform including the development of an in-flight entertainment system. Computex last week saw the first real world consumer devices hitting the market with tablets and netbooks from Asus and Acer leading the charge, all with Intel Atom inside.
If MeeGo is successful it will benefit everybody. Whether you’re a Windows or Apple user, the MeeGo success will benefit you indirectly. Because MeeGo is completely open source anybody can jump in and use the software or edit it. The improvements can be fed back to the platform – this is called Open Source where you charge all the development community with the responsibility to improve the platform.
MeeGo is based on Linux and the MeeGo community is contributing a lot to the base Linux kernel constantly refining and improving it. You may not realise it but the by the time you have read this you have probably used at least 3 Linux based machines including your android phone, your router and the servers that host this blog.
These devices might all be improved though MeeGo evolving.
Apps are a big part of today’s tech talk. One of the key things with MeeGo is QT (pronounced cute) – a development environment for writing apps to run on MeeGo. QT is not just for MeeGo, however. Apps developed in QT can be installed on Windows Mac, Android, Symbian and other Linux platforms so potentially this is the first ‘write once deploy everywhere’ development environment. No need to explain what a massive evolution that would be to the world of technology.
There is an imminent inflection point which will be reached when there are enough MeeGo devices to make it worthwhile. At this point MeeGo will attract a critical mass of developers contributing to the platform and the apps. Developers will rush in bringing with them quality ideas for quality apps and these apps will be able to run everywhere. The Intel AppUp store is already supplying these apps to both MeeGo and Windows.
As for home automation, well MeeGo can run on low spec hardware which ultimately will mean cheaper hardware for the end users – and this will cause more mainstream uptake. Switch Automation is currently developing a MeeGo interface that will soon be available.
But having one operating system that can run on many platforms will bring other advantages. Your in-car system, known as IVI or GenIVI, (adopted by BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Peugeot, Citroen, General Motors and Mitsubishi among others) could be talking to your home and know that because you are driving home you want the AC turned on and then as you enter your street activate the roller door to your garage. If you’re traveling abroad you could use the MeeGo inflight entertainment system to check on your home and view the motion jpeg cameras to see if the garden needs watering and then activate the sprinkler system.
MeeGo is a very young platform and the community are all in support of the openness of the platform. They are trying to make it friendly and inviting for the end users.
At the end of the June Nokia announced a MeeGo powered phone, The N9 – a bet both ways perhaps or a move to please the fans? The official line is MeeGo is a long term project and the next big disruptive technology; while the CEO Steven Elop has said it will be 1 off phone no matter how well it sells. Frankly that a bazar business move, why would you sell more of something that is selling well. Nokia also announced the N950 which is a beautiful phone with a slide out keyboard which is only available to developers also a bit of a weird move.
In the meantime Windows Phone 7 is their mid-high end mass market strategy. With or without the full time support of Nokia, MeeGo is here to stay and will be common place in the next two years. What remains to be seen is whether Nokia made the right choice in abandoning MeeGo in favour of Window Mobile 7.
Source Switch Automation

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