Intel drops MeeGo mobile OS, backs Tizen against Android

Intel and Samsung join forces on new Linux-based operating system for mobile devices and TVs

Linux Foundation and Limo Foundation are rebooting their efforts to compete with Apple and the Android camp by merging MeeGo and Limo into a new operating system called Tizen, with the backing of Intel and Samsung.

Tizen will be a Web-centric operating system for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The Linux Foundation will host the project, and plans an initial release in the first quarter of 2012, enabling the first devices to come to market in mid-2012, it said.

The goal is to develop an OS that makes it easy to a run and develop browser-based applications, where most mobile OSes today focus on running applications natively on the phone.

The future belongs to such HTML5-based applications, Imad Sousou, director of Intel's Open Source Technology Center, said in a blog post on the MeeGo website.

HTML5 will play key role in the new operating system -- and it's the reason why a new operating system is needed, rather than an upgrade to an existing one, according to Sousou: "Shifting to HTML5 doesn't just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment," Sousou wrote.

In addition to HTML5, Tizen will have integrated support for the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) web development environment, an operator-backed initiative to develop Web-based, cross-platform applications. WAC wants to let people use one platform to develop and distribute Web-based mobile applications that can run on a multitude of phones, and allow operators to get a piece of the app store boom. Applications based on WAC are distributed and sold via carrier-operated stores.

Over the next couple of months, Intel will be working very hard to make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen, Sousou said, adding that he will be working even harder to make sure that developers of MeeGo can also transition to Tizen.

Since Nokia decided in February to choose Windows Phone over MeeGo, Intel has been without a major hardware partner, but with Tizen it has Samsung on its side. Intel and Samsung will lead the Tizen technical steering team, according to a blog post on the new Tizen website.

With Android backer Google in the process of acquiring its own phone manufacturer, Motorola Mobility, and Nokia forming a close partnership with Microsoft, Samsung has been put in a position where it feels it has to look for alternatives alongside its own operating system, Bada, according to Pete Cunningham, analyst at Canalys.

But challenging Apple and the Android camp, as well as Windows Phone and Research In Motion, seems to be an almost impossible task. So far, Linux-based projects such as MeeGo and Limo have failed to make their mark, and many think this time will be no different.

"Samsung and Intel create alternative to Android. Really, another fork? This'll end well...," analyst Rob Enderle wrote on Twitter.

Cunningham agrees: "Frankly, Limo has been around for years and achieved nothing. MeeGo has shown promise, but has been slow moving. If you look at that there isn't a lot of hope for [Tizen], but it would be foolish to write off any platform coming to market," he said.

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