Bringing the Magic to Linux with MeeGo
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the Linux Foundation was going to put its money where its mouth is in order to create more “magic” on Linux. Today the Linux operating system market just got a lot more interesting with the announcement of MeeGo.
MeeGo combines Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo projects at the Linux Foundation to create one open source uber-platform for the next generation of computing devices: tablets, pocketable computers, netbooks, automotive IVI and more.
Why should you pay attention to this announcement? With MeeGo you have the world’s largest chip manufacturer and the world’s largest mobile handset manufacturer joining forces to create an incredible opportunity for developers who want to reach millions of users with innovative technology.
Two trends are shaping the need for MeeGo: First, the ubiquitous internet where there is constant connection regardless of location. Second, the ability to access that connection through a variety of devices: in your pocket, in your car or your kitchen, in the living room through your television and so on. No single device will fit every need, but they will all be connected in some way.
Many client Linux efforts to date have focused exclusively on desktop or smartphone segments. The time is now for a platform that is exclusively built to be used across a wide variety of devices, and that takes full advantage of the superior computing power of each device category – longer battery life, better screens, location services, touch, 4G broadband, new vehicle technology and stronger processors.
MeeGo is not an OS designed for a legacy purpose that is being crammed or expanded into a new device form. In other words, this isn’t a square peg in a round hole — MeeGo is a next generation mobile operating system designed for the next generation of mobile devices.
Luckily Intel and Nokia understand true innovation in computing is not restricted to private silos, no matter how big. They are opening up this platform to the broader community. MeeGo, as a project of the Linux Foundation, will use standard open source ingredients, like the Linux kernel, to optimize adoption by their many partners, and will encourage participation in its development efforts.
MeeGo isn’t just an important project at the Linux Foundation, it is also helpful for Linux as a platform. It combines mobile development resources that were recently split in the Maemo and Moblin projects into one well-supported, well-designed project that addresses cross-platform, cross-device and cross-architecture development. Android, ChromeOS, the Palm Pre, Bada, and dozens of traditional Linux desktop efforts use many of the components in MeeGo. They all benefit from the increased engineering efforts on those components. This is the power of the open source development model.
MeeGo is good news for network operators who want ways to add value to their networks without being locked into a single vendor. Meego is good news for device makers who want to create a unique experience across an array of device categories. Meego is good news for software developers who want consistent ways to develop apps for the “next big thing.” And, Meego is good news for consumers who will get incredible new ways to connect to the internet at increasingly lower costs.
Second “IBM moment” for Linux
There is history repeating itself here. A decade ago several computing industry giants pooled their resources behind one open platform: Linux. IBM, Intel, HP, NEC, Fujitsu, Hitachi and others worked in an open and collaborative fashion to develop the technology and market the platform. Linux became a truly disruptive force in the enterprise, unseating the last generation of proprietary operating systems and their high margins.
With Nokia and Intel’s might behind MeeGo, combined with Linux’ open source momentum, we are witnessing the launch of a new disruptive force for a new class of computing devices. These two organizations are not only the largest players in their respective fields but also have a history of building broad coalitions and reinventing themselves. Intel couldn’t be who they are today without their partners, and Nokia might still be in the paper business if they hadn’t reinvented themselves to capitalize on new markets.
What’s so Different About MeeGo?
I’d like to point out four key advantages to MeeGo:
* MeeGo was built for powerful next generation devices from the ground up; instead of a cell phone system trying to work in netbooks or a desktop system trying to work on phones, MeeGo has powerful computing in its DNA and will take advantage of new hardware form factors the industry hasn’t even dreamed up.
* It’s truly open, meaning it’s aligned with upstream components (like the Linux kernel, X.org, D-BUS, tracker, GStreamer, Pulseaudio and more) and takes full advantage of the open model. This reduces fragmentation and complexity for ecosystem partners and will make Linux as a whole stronger.
* Qt and application portability. Developers can target multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Symbian, etc) and devices with a consistent application API and have them run across a broad range of devices. Consumers will want to access the same apps on various devices. Qt and MeeGo make that possible. Because it already reaches so many platforms, Qt is a safe bet for developers. Because it is already well used, it will make it easy to bring many apps from Windows and the Mac over to Linux.
* Cross-device support. Closed platforms (like Apple’s iPad) drive up costs for consumers and limit hardware choice. MeeGo is multi-architecture and can power a broad range of devices from your TV to your car to your pocketable computer to your phone. Consumers can keep their apps and use different devices from different producers.
Why the Linux Foundation?
Everyone who works at the Linux Foundation asks themselves three simple questions every day: Is the work we are doing moving the needle of Linux adoption in a significant way? Does the work we do require broad industry collaboration? Is the Linux Foundation equipped to do this work? In the case of MeeGo, the answer to all three questions is yes.
MeeGo is powerful news for the Linux platform, the Linux Foundation’s members, community developers and users who wish to take full advantage of the next generation of computing devices. We are excited to see what’s next, so watch this space for more MeeGo news in the months to come.