MeeGo and Symbian - Open Source Dead Ends?

While still the leading OS on phones, Symbian and its cousin MeeGo appear to be MeeNot

It looks like the mobile OS wars may come down to a two horse race. While Apple's iOS and Googles Android continue to grow market share (albeit open source Android more quickly than Apple), some of the other mobile OS choices appear to be lagging further and further behind. At some point you have to wonder if they are even relevant anymore.

Two of the open source contenders are looking like they may be running out of steam in fact. Both MeeGo and Symbian have lost key momentum recently and their future viability is very much in doubt. Both of these are sponsored by Nokia, the Finnish phone giant.

In the case of MeeGo, which is a joint Intel-Nokia project, the main person running MeeGo for Nokia left the company. Ari Jaaksi, who drove the strategy and vision for MeeGo at Nokia has left. While the new management team at Nokia says that this will not effect the road map and plans for the first generation of MeeGo devices from Nokia, you have to wonder. Many people are speculating that this could be significant setback.

On top of that Intel announced that MeeGo will not be available on smartphones until 2011. This is a blow to Nokia and other phone manufacturers who were hoping to come out with MeeGo phones to compete with Android, iPhone and the new Windows 7 mobile phones due out soon. 

While the race to win the mobile wars is more of a marathon then a sprint, you have to assume that the later MeeGo enters the race, the harder it will be to compete.

Nokia's other mobile OS Symbian appears to be doing even worse.  When Nokia open sourced the most popular phone OS in the world, many thought it would continue its market share domination. However, the numbers have been steadily eroding as Android and others chip away.

Now it appears that some of the other phone manufacturers are backing away from Symbian. According to this article, both Sony Ericsson and Samsung are halting future Symbian development. This would leave Nokia itself as virtually the only still developing Symbian devices. That kind of defeats the whole idea of open sourcing the OS doesn't it?

In any event, Nokia seems stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Symbian phones they are making are just not competitive with Apple and Google. Microsoft has its new mobile OS about to launch any day and now MeeGo will be MeeNot for a while longer. That could make N O K I A spell irrelevant.

Of course we will have to see how the market responds to the Microsoft OS and I am still waiting for word out of HP about the Palm OS. As tablets become a bigger force in the mobile market, it could give others a chance too.

Right now though it looks like Apple and Google are just pulling away from the field, while some of the other horses come up lame.

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