The future of MeeGo

February 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm (FOSS)

A few days back Nokia announced that it is going to adopt Windows Phone 7 as the default OS for it’s smart phones. With this announcement they effectively relegated the much talked about MeeGo handset UX to the experimental-project category. As a result there has been much hue and cry on the networks. Twitter is full of analyst predictions and the MeeGo community mailing lists are beginning to swell with a mixture of emotional mails from MeeGo users and contributors alike.

I think this announcement will only really affect the Handset UX. The other UXs will continue to grow as normal. I do not think the other UIs had any Nokia employees working on them (I maybe wrong). The netbook UX for example is not even Qt based. It is based on a toolkit that Intel developed for Moblin. From what I have heard the netbook UX has already found partners in some major hardware manufacturers. They have even tied up with Croma in India.

Intel has known for some time that Nokia was going to move away from MeeGo. If you read their press statements though you will read the exact opposite.Why do I think Intel is lying in the press statement? Because Intel created the Intel AppUp store some time back and they went on a road show across the world demonstrating it. I attended the Delhi chapter of this roadshow, and they generally did not comment on why Nokia and Intel have separate app stores.

Intel always had a very clear understanding of what its domain of interest is currently and where it wants to grow in the future. Intel wants to get into the mobile computing business as well. They are yet to come out with a solid processor for mobiles base on Atom, and when they do, they will get MeeGo running on it.

Is MeeGo handset UX ready? I think it is. This UX received the most amount of developer attention. If you are Intel and are getting into the mobile market for the first time, MeeGo is perfect. It differentiates its products very clearly and it will not manufacture 50 different models like Nokia does. So Intel needs to get MeeGo running well on a limited number of models only.

But forget about the handset UX, I say. Did you know that the netbook UX and the IVI (In Vehicle Infotainment) UXs are already on production lines? BMW and Magneti Marelli are shipping cars with MeeGo IVI UX. The Intel roadshow I attended also projected the fact that Wind River is working with several other automobile manufacturers. Intel has tied up with Croma in India and BestBuy in US for its app store for netbook aps. Wind River is also working on the tablet UX but I am not too excited about that.

I think Intel is going to enter a whole new domain and they are ready with MeeGo for their needs. I have berated Intel in the past and have publicly said that they are going to ruin MeeGo, but it now seems that the opposite is true.

On the downside, the netbook UX looks too colourful and childish for execs and has major connectivity components missing in it’s 2g/3g stack. Also right now it runs on a limited set of Intel based hardware. Hardware support for the netbook UX is increasing though.

With Nokia gone I think things will finally settle down. If you are on the MeeGo mailing lists you will know what kind of chaos and confusion has ruled them till now. There have been unending debates on the structure of the repo and the number of different lists required and their functionalities. They have someone named Foster Dawn, a Nokia employee, who did a shabby job of “community management”. Now that people are hollering for answers on the list, she is no where to be found.

I think MeeGo is still in good shape. I think Intel will enter a new phase with MeeGo. It does not need to rush like Nokia had to.

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