Intel pulls MeeGo plug?

Android may stand alone as mobile Linux OS

Intel may be pulling out of MeeGo development, if rumors coming out of Taiwan this morning are true. If that's the case, this will be the second Linux-based mobile platform dropped by its primary corporate sponsor in less than a month's time.

First, the rumor: Taipei-based DigiTimes is reporting that their industry sources are telling them that "Intel reportedly plans to temporarily discontinue development of its MeeGo OS due to a lack of enthusiasm for the platform from handset and tablet PC vendors. Instead, Intel will focus on hardware products, with its handset platforms to be paired with either Android or Windows Phone in 2012."

For its part, Intel is taking the "no comment" route, characterizing this as rumor.

"The company did say it remains committed to MeeGo and will continue to work with the community to develop and help meet the needs of customers and end users with open source."

There's a couple of issues with this: DigiTimes is located very close to the actual manufacturing plants in Taiwan and typically they have a pretty good handle on what's going on in the electronics industry because of that proximity.

Second, the MeeGo operating system has really made near-zero progress on smartphones and tablets, the platforms which Intel is supposedly halting MeeGo development. It's still coming out on the Nokia N9 smartphone, but that's all--Nokia halted all MeeGo device plans when it opted to partner with Microsoft and deploy Windows Phone 7 devices instead. It gets worse: Nokia apparently has no plans to release the N9 in the US, and UK plans are still up in the air, too.

There are other MeeGo projects in the works, but they are few and far between. Besides a reported Asus EeePC X101 and Lenovo Ideapad S100 in the works, the Linux Foundation, which are stewards for the MeeGo project, launched a Smart TV working group for MeeGo in March. No one knows for sure how MeeGo is doing on in-vehicle infotainment devices, another touted platform.

If DigiTimes got it right, though, I am concerned that even these projects will lose momentum and MeeGo may be headed for obscurity. The recent decision by HP to drop WebOS devices, including the TouchPad and all webOS-based phones, only serves to heighten this concern.

In the mobile market, there seems to be a mentality that if you can't make it big fast, you might as well just pack up and go back home. The webOS-based TouchPad was only on the market 49 days and sold abysmally, which seems to be the big reason HP pulled back from its mobile sector bet.

Intel, it seems, has finally come around to this point of view. It is likely a bitter pill to swallow--MeeGo advocates in Intel have often been extremely vocal, giving a sense that Intel was seeking some way to finally have their own operating system and possibly create Intel mojo on mobile hardware and software.

They may not get their wish. A quiet withdrawal from MeeGo does not leave MeeGo dead--remember, the Linux Foundation still holds the project--but without Intel funding and resources, it will be difficult for the open source project to move forward. It can still live, but without deployments or interest from users, will developers still be interested?

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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