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Posted by Ian Fogg on February 15, 2010
Today Intel and Nokia merged their existing smartphone and mobile device operating systems (Moblin and Maemo respectively). I'll be brief as I'm at the MWC event right now (see my tweets for latest analysis). The target devices range from smartphones -- or mobile computers in Nokia's current positioning -- netbooks, tablets, in-car entertainment among others.
This is a bold play that places MeeGo into a competitive position with Android, iPhone OS, Google's Chrome and even desktop software like Ubuntu (as well as the mushrooming mobile-centric smartphone software like Palm's WebOS, Samsung bada and Windows Phone).
Intel's support will raise the ability of the new platform to attract device makers as well as the app developers that every smartphone and smart mobile platform desperately needs to be competitive.
They have lots in common: Both are Linux-based; both predominantly target mobile devices; both aim to deliver outstanding rich consumer Internet experiences; and both have been more talk than action to date. Nokia needs to shift step quickly from talking to walking and even better running or the high end market in Europe will be dominated by the same players as in North America and Nokia will have to pursue a winback strategy. It's taken Nokia nearly five years since the first Maemo device shipped to launch the first phone, the N900, and that is not the complete product -- as Nokia concede -- impressive although it nevertheless is (read my first take on the N900 in this Forrester report).
The aims for this new initiative are lofty but execution must match these ideals with both quality and speed. MeeGo must not allow the desire to implement this software on a very wide range of devices -- in-car entertainments; smartphones; netbooks; tablets etc. etc. -- to distract them from gaining rapid traction in the mobile market.
Meanwhile, I fear the consortium has challenges with its positioning and naming strategy: MeeGo is an awkward name. Nokia is focused on bucking the market and insisting these devices are "mobile computers" -- not smartphones -- and is shifting its smartphone devices to go head to head with featurephones. I understand the reasoning. But to regain the mindshare that Nokia and MeeGo needs, names as well as positioning need to be perfect.
More thoughts later when the MWC dust has settled.