Is Nokia planning to enter the tablet market with MeeGo?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Recent photos may confirm rumors that Nokia is bringing its MeeGo OS to tablets.

Sirens, characters from the film "Tron: Legacy," pose at the movie's world premiere in Hollywood, California, December 11, 2010.

Over the past few months, there have a lot of potential iPad competitors entering (or preparing to enter) the market. The most common are Android-based tablets running either the current/recent Android releases or models that will ship with Google’s tablet-optimized Honeycomb release. There’s also a couple of new platforms on the horizon including RIM’s PlayBook and HP’s upcoming webOS tablets (along with potential webOS netbooks).

With four distinct platforms (five if you differentiate between Honeycomb and phone-oriented Android releases like Froyo), the space is already a bit crowded. And it may get even more crowded.

Rumors and potential tablet applications have been quietly circulating for a while now that Nokia will ship a tablet based on its MeeGo OS. Although those rumors haven’t been solidly confirmed, photos of what could be a recent prototype (which may or may not have made an appearance in TRON Legacy) emerged over the weekend.

MeeGo tablets could be an interesting addition to the tablet market. The platform was developed largely by Intel and Nokia. So far, MeeGo has been most notably used in handsets and is likely where Nokia is pinning its hopes for future growth. But, the platform also has a broader range of applications in IPTV and connected TV devices, vehicle in-dash systems, and other embedded systems.

Exactly what features MeeGo could bring to the tablet market are open to debate. The OS is flexible, can integrate with Nokia’s Ovi store, and is both open source and Linux-based like Android. That it has already been developed for non-handset uses including touch-based in-dash applications could bode well for quick development into a tablet form factor. In fact, it’s very easy to look at the in-dash screenshots on the MeeGo site and visualize many of these functions (and, perhaps even the interface) easily working on a tablet with little or no modification.

If Nokia is developing a MeeGo tablet, the company will need to get the word out soon. Ideally, the company would use the Mobile World Congress next month in Barcelona as a launching pad – if only for an announcement and brief demo. Otherwise, the platform probably won’t have much chance of mainstream success.

What do you? Is there room for another tablet platform? Is MeeGo a viable option? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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