Meego–the mobile operating system merger between Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin–is now available for developers anxious to peek under the hood. The official release of the Meego operating system isn’t expected for at least a few months, but the release of key elements will enable developers to begin working with–and developing for–the new platform.
A post on the Meego Community blog announces “Today is the culmination of a huge effort by the worldwide Nokia and Intel teams to share the MeeGo operating system code with the open source community. This is the latest step in the full merger of Maemo and Moblin, and we are happy to open the repositories and move the ongoing development work into the open – as we set out to do from the beginning.”
Competition is fierce already between mobile operating systems, and many would argue that the last thing the industry needs is more players to confuse the market further. With BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and WebOS already available in the field–what value can the Linux-based Meego deliver?
The value of Meego is in providing an open source platform that extends beyond just smartphones. The Nokia Maemo OS was primarily a smartphone operating system, but Intel’s Moblin was targeted at Atom-based netbooks. With the combined OS the Meego community has a broader focus–providing a common platform that can be leveraged across a diverse range of devices including televisions, car computer systems, and more.
The Meego Community blog explains in more detail “The MeeGo architecture is based on a common core across the different usage models, such as netbooks, handheld, in-vehicle, and connected TV. The MeeGo common core includes the various key subsystems including the core operating system libraries, the comms and telephony services, internet and social networking services, visual services, media services, data management, device services, and personal services.”
By unveiling some core elements of the operating system, Meego can begin to engage third-party developers. The eventual success or failure of the platform will depend in large part on whether or not the developer community embraces the OS. Without a robust library of apps, the Meego OS could quickly wither and die.
On the other hand, if the developer community supports Meego, it could reduce fragmentation and minimize the development effort by providing an environment where a single app can be developed, and then leveraged across a range of platforms and devices.
Developers can download the Meego images from the meego.com. The images can be flashed directly onto a device from a Linux PC, or can be booted from a USB thumb drive. However, these downloads are a very early release that does not yet include the graphical user interface elements, so Meego will only boot to a terminal screen.
The smartphone market doesn’t really need a new operating system, but the strategy adopted by Nokia and Intel of targeting a broader range of platforms and providing a common OS has promise.