Some days, it seems that mobile platforms are dropping like flies, yet growing like mushrooms. On Wednesday, Intel announced that it was dropping the MeeGo mobile operating system it had launched last year with Nokia, and, at the same time, will be developing an open-source Linux mobile platform called Tizen.
Intel will work with the Linux Foundation and the LiMo Foundation in the creation and launch of Tizen, with first release of the OS by first quarter of next year, and Tizen-based devices by the middle of 2012. Tizen will be built on standards-based web technologies. MeeGo had been an attempt by Intel and Nokia to merge their two previous Linux-based platforms, Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo.
'Why Not Just Evolve MeeGo?'
On the MeeGo official blog, Intel Open Source Technology Center Director Imad Sousou asked a key rhetorical question: "Why not just evolve MeeGo?" The answer, he said, is that "the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps ," and Intel believes its investment should shift in that direction.
But, he added, "shifting to HTML5 doesn't just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been."
Sousou said that emphasizing HTML5 means APIs need to evolve with platform technology and by market segment, which a new platform could more easily provide.
Tizen will reside within the Linux Foundation, be governed by a Technical Steering Group, will be developed openly, and will support tablets, notebooks, handsets, smart TVs, and in-vehicle infotainment systems.
On the new Tizen.org website, a welcoming statement said that Tizen APIs will cover various platform capabilities, including messaging, multimedia, camera, network , and social media, and there will be a development kit for creating native code. It's not yet clear if Tizen will use any of the development that already has been done for MeeGo.
Nokia's MeeGo Smartphone
On Tuesday, Nokia announced its first MeeGo smartphone, the N9, which could well be its last. In addition to Intel abandoning MeeGo, Nokia has committed to transitioning its smartphone line to Microsoft 's new Windows Phone 7 platform, for which a feature-rich Mango update became available Tuesday.
Intel's long-term commitment to MeeGo had been unclear, especially in the wake of the Nokia-Microsoft alliance. Last month, for instance, Intel and Google announced they would work together to optimize new generations of Google's open-source Android platform for the chipmaker's low-power Atom processors.
Intel is especially interested in placing its 32-nanometer Medfield chip into mobile devices, as well as coming 22-nanometer processors. The dominant processor for smartphones and tablets are those based on designs from the U.K.-based ARM Holdings. ARM chips are used in smartphones from Apple, Samsung, HTC, Research In Motion, and in tablets.
At the time last month, Intel said it was still committed to MeeGo, but that it was interested in positioning it more for embedded applications.