Making the case for MeeGo

Can Meego survive in an iOS, Android world?
Can Meego survive in an iOS, Android world?

We’re live at the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco and it’s been an interesting pitch to developers and consumers. While Nokia ditched the platform in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, Intel still believes that it can carve out a market in the tablet, smartphone and connected device space. While it’s not going to be easy, there may be a real case for MeeGo.

Full steam ahead

To me, the biggest reason I can’t discount MeeGo is because Intel is behind it and this company is going to go full throttle at the mobile space over the next few years. One could argue that it’s been extremely slow to the game and let ARM eat its lunch but it takes time for these big companies to change strategies. Now that Intel is fully committed to mobile, tablets and connected devices, it’s sheer size and strength could carve out a decent market share.

Yes, Intel will also be creating chips that run Android, Windows and others but you know it will want MeeGo to succeed and will throw millions of dollars behind it. While there aren’t any amazing phones or tablets with this yet, it is quickly going to market on netbooks, set-top boxes, within cars and in a variety of other consumer electronics. It has also been created in a way which makes continual computing a distinct possibility – we saw a demonstration showing how you could quickly import your contacts from a laptop to two laptops and this looked quick and simple.

The open source nature of MeeGo also means that it will offer some advantages to hardware makers, as it will be easier to go to market with devices. The WeTab was originally going to ship with Android but the company pivoted to MeeGo and it was still able to get the tablet out on the market in five months. Sure, the user interface still needs a lot of work but that type of go-to-market speed is very appealing.

There are also many price advantages to working with open source.

“The fundamentals fundamentally favor open source,” said Jim Zemlin, Linux foundation director, at the conference keynote. “That’s why you should work with Meego.”

Not so fast

MeeGo is not as good as the platforms it’s competing with in the tablet and mobile device space. When we first saw the tablet version at Mobile World Congress, it was quite sad, buggy and slow. Sure, it was at the alpha stages but nothing we’ve seen at the MeeGo conference gives us hope that it has received the quantum leap it needs to best Android, iOS, webOS, Windows Phone 7 (or its tablet equivalent) and QNX.

That could be changing soon though, as the fundamentals aren’t completely horrible and the frameworks, community and ecosystem are quietly being built up. Yes, there’s no halo handset or tablet with it yet (sorry WePad) but that could change very quickly if a company like LG or even ZTE commits in a big way.

If Intel wants MeeGo to succeed, the platform just needs to get better quickly. It’s really that simple.

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