Will Intel pull the plug on MeeGo? Should it?

At one time, MeeGo looked like it could be the next Android.

A number of reports have popped in the last few weeks claiming that Intel is about to pull the plug on its open-source MeeGo project, which is hosted under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. Intel has been publicly denying this ... and has said that it remains committed to MeeGo and is even hinting that it is still looking for a new handset partner. Meanwhile, Jim Zemlin, director of the Linux Foundation, says that interest in MeeGo remains higher than you might expect. "In terms of where it's at, I'll tell you, we get a lot of calls about MeeGo from the automotive industry, from set-top boxes, from different folks who want to use that platform," he told me in an interview last month.

I asked a buddy of mine, Marco Chiappetta, an editor at HotHardware and self-described Android hacker, what he thought about MeeGo's chances. Here is a guest post written by Chiappetta:

MeeGo is a Linux-based software platform for x86 processors that Intel had hoped would permeate the netbook, smartphone, and ultra-mobile device markets. To date, MeeGo has gotten little traction, however.

Initially, it was Intel and Nokia collaborating on the MeeGo project, combining resources and design elements from the companies’ respective Moblin and Maemo mobile platforms. Since the time of the joint announcement in early 2010 though, in a bold but risky move, Nokia decided to abandon MeeGo in favor of Microsoft’s fledgling Windows Phone 7 OS. While the Nokia/Microsoft partnership has yet to bear any meaningful fruit, Nokia’s decision left Intel out in the cold and doomed a number of x86-based mobile platforms that were already in development. A few of Intel’s other partners have also shown off MeeGo-based prototypes, but none of the companies are as prolific in the mobile market as Nokia.

MeeGo

Despite initial enthusiasm by Intel and Nokia, MeeGo never made

it onto any mainstream devices

Should Intel make an official announcement sometime soon that MeeGo is really dead, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many, including me. With the success of iOS and Android and many developers embracing HTML5 for app development, which ultimately marginalizes the OS anyway, there was / is little room for another mobile OS, especially one that has yet to debut on a mainstream device. Of course, the MeeGo project is open-source and may continue to be developed and maintained by a select few interested parties. Without any hardware partners, however, there is little hope MeeGo will amount to anything more than a hobbyist’s mobile OS.

The fact that Android runtime environments have been developed for x86 platforms and that the Android-X86 project has already released semi-stable, working version of Google’s open-source Android OS, there is little need for MeeGo in my opinion. Rumor has it officially sanctioned versions of Android are in development for x86 processors too. If that’s the case, Intel would be better served by putting its considerable resources behind that project if the company is to ultimately fend off the onslaught from ARM in the smartphone and tablet markets.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in