MeeGo Loses Its Last Friend as Intel Turns to Tizen

Months after losing support from handset maker Nokia, the MeeGo mobile OS lost another major backer when Intel announced Wednesday it wouldn’t continue with the Linux-based operating system. Instead, Intel will partner with Samsung to develop Tizen, a new open source Linux build.

Intel launched MeeGo in 2010 with partner Nokia, but soon afterward Nokia turned away from MeeGo in favor of a deal with Microsoft and Windows Phone. The MeeGo OS managed to appear in one Nokia handset, the N9, but the phone was launched after Nokia had already made its move toward Microsoft.

Much of MeeGo’s fate was then left in the hands of Intel, but in a blog post Tuesday the company announced it was trying something new entirely.

Tizen, like MeeGo, will be supported by the Linux Foundation. It will focus on HTML5 technologies — one of the main differences between Tizen and MeeGo.

The partnership with Samsung is likely to give the operating system a boost. The Korean company has been successful at selling mobile devices running on the Android platform, but even that freely distrubted OS is not free of risk. Google has a strong grip on the system, it’s recently moved to buy up Samsung competitor Motorola Mobility, and currently several thick patent battles regarding either Android devices or the platform itself continue to drag on in courts.

Samsung has apparently been looking for another platform in which to develop, and with the support of Intel there’s not as much risk for failure.

“Samsung might feel they have nothing to lose. Worse comes to worst, it doesn’t work, but since they’re partnered with Intel it doesn’t have to be too big of a loss,” Daniel Amir, managing director and senior research analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, told LinuxInsider.

No Go for MeeGo

Intel’s blog post regarding Tizen, written by Imad Sousou, director of the Intel Open Source Technology Center, acknowledges there may be questions regarding why the company didn’t decide to go forward by working with MeeGo, the platform it already had.

The company sees the future in HTML5, Sousou explained, and in order to create a platform that will have a place in that future, Tizen was the way to go. In the next couple months, the company will work to make sure MeeGo developers can get through the transition. The space is perfect for outside developers to switch to as well, he said.

“We’re definitely focused on being able to provide more information as we go forward with this project in the months ahead,” Suzy Greenberg, spokesperson for Intel, told LinuxInsider.

Another OS?

It’s unclear yet whether the crowded club of mobile operating systems, which includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS, Bada, and an on-life-support webOS, needs yet another member.

“Only time will tell if the market can support another OS. But it’s not that critical. The focus on Intel isn’t on operating systems, so if they can try it out and turn it into something good, that’s good. But they don’t have a lot to lose here, either,” said Amir.

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