MeeGo NoGo: things look bad for the Intel/Nokia Linux project

A sad post yesterday from MeeGo contributor Andrew Wafaa suggests that MeeGo on netbooks may no longer happen:

Basically by all accounts MeeGo is stopping all work on the Netbook UX. Yup, all our hard work is now almost for nothing :-(

This is remarkable. The original Moblin project, sponsored by Intel, was all about bringing an excellent user experience to Linux on netbooks. The first netbooks ran Linux, but met resistance from a general public familiar with Windows; yet Linux is more suitable for netbooks than Windows in its present form.

Moblin is different. It’s a friendly way to get the most out of your netbook. It doesn’t work like most other computers because it’s optimized for enjoying media, interacting with your social networks and the internet.

wrote Moblin Community Manager Paul Cooper back in 2009, when netbooks were hot.

The problem: tech trends sometimes outpace corporate planning. Moblin was a good idea in 2008, but nothing was delivered; and by the time it looked like it might be ready, the market seemed to want tablets – or Apple iPads – rather than netbooks; and whatever problem Moblin was addressing was already solved by Google Android.

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Two years later, in February 2010, Moblin merged with Nokia’s Maemo, creating a new project called MeeGo. The new focus would be tablets and smartphones:

The power and capability of handhelds has reached astounding levels – netbooks have been a runaway success – and connected TVs, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment, and media phones are fast growing new markets for devices with unheard of performance. Our goal is to develop the best software to go with these devices.

said Intel’s Imad Sousou.

So where are the MeeGo smartphones? Well, maybe we will see one at Mobile World Congress next week. But Nokia is in disarray. According to a leaked memo from new CEO Stephen Elop:

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

Perhaps Nokia will progress MeeGo smartphones with renewed vigour; but what looks more likely is that Nokia will embrace a rival platform, maybe Google Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

That might well be alongside MeeGo, rather than replacing it, but Nokia needs to focus its energy and I would guess that MeeGo will lose out.

It may be the beginning of the end for a promising project that has progressed too slowly.

Update: Reuters is reporting that “two industry sources close to the company” say Nokia has ended development of its first MeeGo smartphone

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5 comments to MeeGo NoGo: things look bad for the Intel/Nokia Linux project

  • I think Nokia should be more universal. Like HTC: they do Androids and WMs.
    MeeGo can go together with Android in Nokia’s world. Does not matter who makes preference, as long as it is Linux.

  • “The first netbooks ran Linux, but met resistance from a general public familiar with Windows; yet Linux is more suitable for netbooks than Windows in its present form.”

    I think this is the completely wrong statement to make. It doesn’t matter which OS is used on a device, the only thing that matters is that the user gets to do the things he or she wants to do. If you focus your efforts on the platform and not the enduser you will surely fail. I think this is mostly why Linux hasn’t made it to the masses on the desktop, they keep focusing on how good their platform is instead of how well they solve a particular problem a user has.

    Apparently Windows is more suitable as a netbook OS than Linux in its current form, you can say the users are wrong, or you can figure out what it is the users are using it for and make sure they can do that with no grieves on your platform.

    And a note that Nokia has more developer than Apple, I actually think _because_ Apple has less employees doing a thing they succeed. Software development, or development of any sort is severely hurt if you add too many people to the mix, things just do go faster to develop, the more you add the slower it goes.

  • Niclas Lindgren wrote: “And a note that Nokia has more developer than Apple, I actually think _because_ Apple has less employees doing a thing they succeed. Software development, or development of any sort is severely hurt if you add too many people to the mix, things just do go faster to develop, the more you add the slower it goes.”

    Absolutely correct. To paraphrase Fred Brooks in The Mythical Man-Month (which should be mandatory reading for project managers in any field, not just software development): It takes one woman nine months to have a baby; it doesn’t take nine women one month to have a baby.

  • oiaohm

    Its funny people are not keeping up with the ball game. The maybe no netbook by the time meego is ready because simply no one will be buying netbooks.

    Motorola Atrix 4g is an good example of what is coming. Phone/notebook hybrids.

    Then there are also tablets with keyboards that connect on. Sorry touch operated have a different requirements to a general netbook.

    in vehicle is doing very well with Meego. So the platform is not a 100 percent failure.

    Andrew Wafaa being upset should kinda be expected. Hardware market is quicky turning into shifting sands.