Intel and Linux Foundation kill MeeGo for Tizen

The Tizen platform, introduced on Tuesday, will be a successor to both MeeGo and LiMo, two Linux-based mobile platforms that have met with mixed success
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The MeeGo platform is to be officially abandoned, as Intel and the Linux Foundation are moving onto a new mobile platform venture called Tizen.

Intel, the Linux Foundation and the LiMo Foundation announced the Tizen project on Tuesday. The new operating system will succeed two separate platforms: MeeGo, which has only been released on one handset, the Nokia N9; and LiMo, which has made its way onto around 60 mid-market handsets, almost all in Japan.

Tizen will see its first release, along with a software development kit, in the first quarter of 2012, with devices based on the platform due in the middle of the year. The plan is to see the new platform used on smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment systems.

Tizen will combine the best of MeeGo and LiMo while adding a standards-based HTML 5 and WAC web-development environment that allows the creation of device-independent apps, the Linux and LiMo Foundations said in a joint statement. It will come with a "state-of-the-art" reference user interface that manufacturers and operators can customise as they wish, they said.

"The Linux Foundation is pleased to host the Tizen platform," Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Foundation, said in the statement. "Open-source platforms such as Tizen are good for Linux, as they further its adoption across device categories. We look forward to collaborating with the LiMo Foundation and its members on this project."

Short-lived MeeGo

MeeGo appeared in February 2010 as a hybrid of Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo, aimed at mobile phones, tablets, connected TVs and other devices. However, one year later Nokia went into partnership with Microsoft, saying it planned to phase out Symbian and release just one MeeGo handset, the N9.

Open-source platforms such as Tizen are good for Linux, as they further its adoption across device categories.
– Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation

The N9 has only seen very limited release, and people in key markets such as the US and western Europe did not get a chance to play with a device that impressed reviewers despite its one-off nature. Nokia told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that it would "provide support for the Nokia N9 until at least 2015, including software updates, care and services support", but declined to say whether the smartphone would upgraded to run Tizen.

Intel, which failed to find another major partner to co-develop MeeGo, said on Tuesday that it will support Tizen.

Imad Sousou, the director of Intel's Open Source Technology Center, said in post on the MeeGo blog that Intel had decided not to "evolve" MeeGo because it believed the future "belongs to HTML 5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps".

"We are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML 5," Sousou wrote on Tuesday. "Shifting to HTML 5 doesn't just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasising HTML 5 means that APIs not visible to HTML 5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment."

Sousou conceded that this judgement was one "on which reasonable people could disagree", but he encouraged those who had been involved with MeeGo to jump on board with Tizen.

Enter Tizen

Intel's work on Tizen will not be as project-leading as that on MeeGo, a company spokesman indicated on Wednesday, saying it will be "just one" of its many contributions to various platforms.

"Intel continues to focus on its strategy of providing choice when it comes to operating systems, and we work closely with partners such as Microsoft and Google on Windows and Android respectively, as well as a number of open-source projects," the spokesman said.

The other platform to be superseded by Tizen, LiMo, has had mixed success. It is used on dozens of NEC and Panasonic handsets distributed by the Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo. Outside east Asia, however, only Vodafone dipped its toe into the LiMo water, and not for very long. The operator scrapped its Samsung-made, LiMo-based 360 handset range in July 2010, less than a year after launching it.

In the Tizen statement, LiMo Foundation executive director Morgan Gillis said the new platform is "a well-timed step change which unites major mobile Linux proponents within a renewed ecosystem".

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