Tag Archives: meego

Asus announces combined smartphone and tablet – the Padfone

Asus has announced the Padfone, a combined tablet and smartphone running Google Android. The phone docks inside the tablet, which means you get an internet-connected tablet without having to pay for an additional SIM card and contract. It is a similar concept to Motorola’s Atrix, which combines smartphone and netbook. I like the concept and its efficiency, though I am not sure that this is quite the right approach.




Asus is also having another at at Linux on a netbook. The Eee PC X101 will run MeeGo, the Linux-based operating system which was once a joint Intel-Nokia project, but ditched by Nokia in favour of Windows Phone. MeeGo enables Asus to offer the X101 at a lower price than would be the case with Windows, as well as offering snappier performance; however there will also be a Windows 7 option so I guess the market will decide.

Intel disappointed with Nokia’s Microsoft move, still backing MeeGo

Intel’s Suzy Ramirez has posted about the future of MeeGo Linux following Nokia’s decision to base its smartphone strategy on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. Nokia was Intel’s key partner for MeeGo, which was formed by merging Intel’s Moblin with Nokia’s Maemo.

Although Nokia has been an important partner to Intel and MeeGo and we are disappointed by this decision, it’s important to know that this is by no means the end of MeeGo or the end to Intel’s commitment

says Ramirez, adding that “MeeGo is not just a phone OS”.

True; but with the focus also moved away from netbooks it is getting hard to see where MeeGo will have an opportunity to shine.

Intel promises to outline its mobile strategy this week at Mobile World Congress. I will be reporting from Barcelona in due course.

Qt will not be ported to Windows Phone 7 says Nokia

Director of the Qt Ecosystem Daniel Kihlberg has posted officially on the future of Qt, Nokia’s cross-platform application framework.

However you spin it, Nokia’s change of direction, relegating Symbian to low-end phones and focusing on Windows Phone as its Smartphone platform, is not good for Qt developers. Kihlberg offers a glimmer of hope for MeeGo though. Whereas CEO Stephen Elop was almost dismissive of MeeGo, saying that a device would be released as part of a learning process, Kihlberg positions it as a source of future disruption:

Nokia also announced it will ship its first MeeGo-related device in 2011, which will rely on the Qt ecosystem – and then will continue with MeeGo as an open source project for future disruption.  Nokia can’t afford to be behind the next disruption again and Qt can play an important role in making sure it isn’t.

But why not port Qt to Windows Phone, which needs a native development stack? Nokia’s Aron Kozak states in a comment:

Qt will not be ported to Windows Phone 7. One of the key benefits of joining an established ecosystem is that there is an established toolchain that everyone uses. All Windows Phone apps will run on all WP7 devices. Adding Qt to the mix would only cause fragmentation.

Unfortunate from a Qt perspective but wise from a developer ecosystem perspective.

In truth, this is near-fatal for the future of Qt at Nokia:

I have to say, Nokia made a bad decision jumping to WP7 knowing that Qt wouldn’t be on it. Now that Nokia did this, they basically went from Qt “Code once, run everywhere” to “Code once, run nowhere”.

says developer Keith Rusler.

The other problem is that developers feel misled:

When Elop came in he said that Qt will be the main framework. Symbian and MeeGo would be unified through Qt. We all stopped working on Symbian C++ and started learning Qt. We have now wasted 6 motnhs of our family’s lives on a dead end. If I knew this was going to happen, I would have started learning Java instead!

Irrespective of the business merits of Elop’s decision, the truth is that its relationship with developers has been deeply wounded. I am not sure how it could have been better handled – except that I think Nokia should have insisted on Qt support in Windows Phone – but I still observe that it has been handled badly. The evidence suggests that Elop under-estimates the importance of nurturing developers in the ecosystems he talks so much about.

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.


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

Intel AppUp is Up, but underwhelming.

Intel has launched AppUp, its application store for Windows and Moblin/MeeGo Linux.


Isn’t Moblin obsolete, and now merged into MeeGo? That is the plan, but AppUp still talks about Moblin:



The Intel AppUp developer program will support MeeGo. The current Moblin SDK for the Intel AppUpSM developer program is MeeGo ready and is upward compatible for Moblin and MeeGo.

The web site is pretty confusing, even though it is supposedly out of beta. Click Frequently Asked Questions, and you get a document dated December 2009, though “Last Modified” in August. It does seem to be out of date though, referring throughout to the Beta and stating that only Windows is supported by the AppUp client.


I downloaded the client and had a look. The client is a simple affair, with apps in various categories, though the current selection of apps is uninspiring. Prices currently range from free to £28.19 for Easy Flyer Creator (Desktop Publishing), the most expensive I could find. All the “Featured apps” are games, though the other categories are populated to some extent.


If you want to develop for AppUp you need the SDK, which provides the tools and libraries to link your app to the AppUp client. The SDK is native code, and the natural developer platform for AppUp is the cross-platform Qt, but the main requirement is that you can link to the SDK; there is also an approval process.

Adobe has done the work to support AIR applications, which use the Flash runtime, in AppUp. Adobe has also come up with an interesting project to address the coming proliferation of app stores. The Melrose project, now in beta, targets multiple app stores:

Melrose provides a repository that distributes applications to multiple application stores so that publishers can reach millions of users.

Intel AppUp Center and the Adobe AIR Marketplace are the first two storefronts available in Melrose. Melrose also provides analytics that let publishers measure success of their applications.

It is a shame that Melrose does not yet include Android Market.

Who knows, AppUp may have a bright future, but Intel could have done better with the launch. There is a poor selection of apps, confusing Moblin/MeeGo branding, and out of date information on the site. Of these, the biggest problem is the lack of apps themselves. The main target is netbooks, and Intel will need a greatly improved selection before AppUp comes close to enhancing netbooks in the way that Apple’s App Store enhances iPhone, iPad and iTouch, which is the obvious model.

How many app stores will there be? Alongside Apple, there is AppUp, Nokia’s Ovi, Android Market, as well as older app stores like handango. Microsoft is rumoured to have big plans for an App Store for Windows 8, and of course Windows Phone 7 will have its own store – and these are just the ones which come to mind immediately.

Not all these app stores will succeed, and Intel should have made more effort with this launch.

HP will not do Android or Windows Phone 7 smartphones – but what chance for webOS?

HP’s Todd Bradley, Executive Vice President of Personal Systems and formerly CEO of Palm, was interviewed by Jon Fortt at CNBC. Fortt asks some great questions which mostly get woolly answers, but did get this statement from Bradley:

We will not do a Linux, Android phone. We won’t do a Microsoft Phone … we’ll deliver webOS phones.

I will be interested to see if HP sticks to this commitment. HP is Microsoft’s biggest customer and huge in business systems, but that does not necessarily mean it can make a success of a mobile platform on its own.

Mobile platforms stand (or fall) on several pillars: hardware, software, mobile operator partners, and apps. Apple is powering ahead with all of these. Google Android is as well, and has become the obvious choice for vendors (other than HP) who want to ride the wave of a successful platform. Windows Phone 7 faces obvious challenges, but at least in theory Microsoft can make it work though integration with Windows and by offering developers a familiar set of tools, as I’ve noted here.

RIM Blackberry is well entrenched in the Enterprise and succeeds by focusing on messaging and doing it well. Nokia and Intel will jostle for position with MeeGo.

It is obvious that not all these platforms can succeed. If we accept that Apple and Android will occupy the top two rungs of the ladder when it comes to attracting app developers, that means HP webOS cannot do better than third; and I’d speculate that it will be some way lower down than that.

You have to feel for HP, which has supported Microsoft’s failing mobile platform for many years – with the occasional lapse, remember when it became an OEM vendor for Apple’s iPods? – and now has decided it cannot rely on the company in this area. That is understandable. However, HP is heavily invested in Windows. It may be choosing just the wrong moment to abandon ship; or it may find that doing its own thing with webOS is no better. Google Android would have been a safer though less interesting choice.

What chance for MeeGo in the age of the iPad?

Today is Apple iPad day in the UK; but the portable device I’ve been playing with is not from Apple. Rather, I downloaded the first release build of MeeGo, proudly labelled 1.0, and installed it on my Toshiba NB 300 netbook, which normally runs Windows. You can choose between the evil edition with Google Chrome; or the free edition with Chromium – I picked the Chrome version. I did not burn any bridges: I simply copied the image to a 2GB USB memory stick and booted from that. There was one oddity: the USB boot only worked when using the USB port on the right by the power socket, and not from the one on the left edge of the netbook. It is a common problem with USB, that not all ports are equal.


MeeGo is a joint project from Intel and Nokia, formed by the merging of Intel Moblin and Nokie Maemo. It is a version of Linux designed for mobile devices, from smartphones to netbooks, though this first release is only for netbooks. Further releases are planned on a "six-month cadence", and a wider range of devices including handsets and touch-screen tables is promised for October.

First impressions are mixed. Starting with the good news: performance is great, the user interface is smooth and polished, and less child-like and cutesy than the last Moblin I looked at. The designers have really thought about how to make the OS netbook-friendly. Applications run full-screen, making the best use of the limited screen size. Navigation is via a toolbar which slides into view if you move the mouse to the top of the screen. From here, you can switch between "Zones" – in effect, each zone is a running  applications. Not difficult but laborious; I found myself using Alt-Tab for switching between applications. I also miss the Windows taskbar, despite the screen space it occupies, since it helps to have a visual reminder of the other apps you have running.

There is also a home page which is a kind of local portal, showing showing current Twitter status (once I had added my Twitter account), application shortcuts, current appointments, recent web history, and other handy shortcuts.

Getting started was relatively quick. I soon figured out that the Network icon in the toolbar would let me configure wireless networking. It look me a little longer to find the system preferences, which are found by clicking the All Settings button in the Devices menu. Here I was able to change the keyboard layout from US to GB, though since it does not take effect until you logout, and I was using the live image which does not save changes, I was still stuck with the wrong layout.

A terminal – essential for serious Linux users – can be found in the System Tools section of the Application menu. I needed a password to obtain root access, which I discovered is set by default to "meego" in the live image. I presume this is a feature of the live image only, as this would otherwise be a serious security risk.

I soon found annoyances. This may be version 1.0, but it is described as a "core" release and seems mainly intended for software developers and I presume device manufacturers who are getting started. The selection of pre-installed applications is very limited, and does not include a word processor or spreadsheet.  There is a "Garage" utility for installing new apps, but although it seems to offer Abiword and Gnumeric, I could not get the links to resolve. I cannot find an image editor either. Without basic apps like this, MeeGo is not something I could rely on while out and about.


I was surprised to find no link to the Intel AppUp store, which will offer applications for MeeGo, and when I tried to install the AppUp beta I got failed dependencies. I optimistically tried to install Adobe AIR; no go there either.

There must be other ways of getting apps installed – this is Linux after all – but I was looking for a quick and easy route.

Adobe Flash 10.1 is installed and works, though not on my first attempt. Trying to play a Youtube video made Chrome unresponsive, and I could not get Flash content to play on any site. Rebooted and all was well.

A big irritation for me is that you cannot disable tapping on the touchpad. There is a checkbox for it in settings, but it is both ticked and grayed so you cannot change it. I detest tapping since you inevitably tap by accident sometimes, on occasion losing work or just wasting time. No doubt there is some setting you can change though the terminal but I haven’t had time to investigate. It  is also possible that doing a full install to hard drive would fix it, as the live image does not save changes.


Nevertheless, the progress is encouraging and if development continues at this pace I can see MeeGo becoming a strong alternative to Windows on netbooks: faster, cheaper, and better optimized for this kind of device. Even against the Apple iPad, I can see the attraction of something like a MeeGo netbook: freedom, Flash, value for money, and a keyboard.

The big question though: what chance has MeeGo got in the face of competition from Apple, Google with Android, and Microsoft with Windows? It seems to me that all these three are safe bets, in that they are not going away and already have momentum behind them. Will the public also make room for MeeGo? I like it well enough to hope it succeeds, but fear it may be crowded out by the competition, other than for Nokia Smartphones.

What is happening with Silverlight on Intel Moblin/Meego?

Last September, Microsoft and Intel announced a port of Silverlight to Moblin Linux. I posted on the subject here, including a quote from Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb:

Microsoft and Intel announced today that the two companies have agreed to work together to bring support for Silverlight 3 to Intel’s Atom-based Mobile Internet Devices (MID). These Atom-based devices run on Windows and Moblin, an open source, Linux-based operating system targeted at Atom-based devices. In order to help bring Silverlight content to these devices, Microsoft has provided Intel with Silverlight source code and test suites, and Intel will provide Microsoft with an optimized version of Silverlight for Moblin devices that Microsoft can then redistribute to OEMs.

Since then, Moblin has merged with Novell’s Maemo to form MeeGo (though this is still work in progress), and we’ve heard very, very little about Silverlight on either platform. The only snippet of news I have is that it was mentioned at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing and reported by Char Zvolanek, who said that it came up in the Meego Q&A after regular sessions ended, and Silverlight will be supported in Meego  version 1.1 in October:

In May, the 1.0 version will be released, and with 1.1 coming out in October, there will be support for Silverlight, Java, and Air. Developers can write native or runtime apps that can be Java-based, Web-based, Silverlight-based, or Air-based.

Today, another clue, but not a good one for Silverlight. Intel is holding an application lab on May 26th in San Jose, for developing for the Intel AppUp store, either on Windows or Moblin. On the agenda: C/C++ and Adobe AIR, and the upcoming Adobe AIR SDK for Moblin. No Silverlight.

If anyone is going along, and can discover any news about Silverlight on Moblin, I’d be interested to know.

Silverlight (and AIR) for MeeGo Linux coming in October?

Back in September 2009, Intel and Microsoft announced an official port of Silverlight for Linux, or at least for what was then Intel’s Moblin project, a Linux distribution tailored for netbooks. It was surprising to learn that this would be an official port using Microsoft’s code, as opposed to something based on Moonlight, the open source and also somewhat officially blessed version of Silverlight for Linux.

Since then I have been watching for more news about this Silverlight port, but heard nothing. Then in February Moblin merged with Nokia’s Maemo to become MeeGo. What next for the Silverlight port?

Earlier this week I met Intel’s Uli Dumschat at the company’s software conference in Barcelona. He spoke on Intel’s software development products for Atom-powered devices such as those running MeeGo. I asked him about Silverlight for MeeGo and he knew nothing about it.

It seems I was at the wrong conference. Today I spotted this post from Charlene Zvolanek at Intel’s Developer Forum in Beijing:

In May, the 1.0 version will be released, and with 1.1 coming out in October, there will be support for Silverlight, Java, and Air. Developers can write native or runtime apps that can be Java-based, Web-based, Silverlight-based, or Air-based. Even though it’s open source, Intel has been working closely with Microsoft to make sure that MeeGo and Windows are friends.

I also watched the keynote from Intel’s Renee James, who said that MeeGo devices are expected in the “second half of this year”, though I imagine they will be 1.0 devices – who knows, maybe 1.1 will be an upgrade option later.

So Silverlight on MeeGo now has a date. Is this Silverlight 4.0? Will it run out of browser? Access to local resources? Does this date apply to MeeGo Smartphones as well as netbooks? All good questions, about which I know nothing. Watch this space.

Android the new Windows?

I’ve just reviewed the LG GW620 Android phone. I was impressed by its features but disappointed by its usability – it’s not that bad, but scrolling web pages accurately with touch I found almost impossible – it’s hard to avoid scrolling too far and missing out a chunk – and why does LG supply the device with four different email clients?

Apple’s iPhone is much more expensive and compares badly on features, but has the usability and polish that the LG phone lacks.

OEM Android versus Apple iPhone – it reminds me of Windows vs Apple on the desktop.

One is for the mass market, cheap, feature-rich, a bit chaotic, always a few annoyances, but you put up with them because you can still get things done, and it’s an open platform which lets you do what you like.

The other is premium-cost, single-vendor, less annoying, and you spend more time getting on with what you want to do and less time fighting the machine.

I don’t intend this as a  complete parallel. There are more than two popular operating systems in the SmartPhone market right now – Symbian, Meego, WebOS, Blackberry; and Microsoft has big hopes for Windows Phone 7. That said, it is hard to see all these platforms thriving long-term.