Intel appears to have all but given up on MeeGo. Though the company has not officially announced it’s ending development for the Linux-based tablet and PC platform, sources inside the company and the MeeGo project have confirmed that Intel has no plans to continue funding MeeGo events and classes.
The move is another big blow to the MeeGo project, following the Nokia announcement earlier this year that the phone manufacturer would support the Windows Phone platform on its devices. This week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini took the stage at his company’s developer conference and did not mention MeeGo at all. Last year, his keynote included a great deal about MeeGo and outlined Intel’s plans for the platform.
This year, the tablet news from Intel was about Android. Google teamed up with Intel to announce optimizations for Android on Intel chip sets. Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, said, “Combining Android with Intel’s low-power smartphone road map opens up more opportunity for innovation and choice. This collaboration will drive the Android ecosystem forward.”
Otellini was bullish on Android in his keynote speech. “By optimizing the Android platform for Intel architecture, we bring a powerful new capability to market that will accelerate more industry adoption and choice, and bring exciting new products to market that harness the combined potential of Intel technology and the Android platform. Together, we are accelerating Intel architecture and bringing new levels of innovation to a maturing Android platform.”
Long road to failure
Those statements mark quite a change from 2009, when Intel and Nokia began pouring over US$100 million into events, hardware giveaways and global developer meet-ups for the MeeGo platform. One such event in Europe saw Intel and Nokia renting out a stadium and a brewery for attendee parties, with free MeeGo devices all around.
Though Nokia bowed out on MeeGo, it will bring one MeeGo device to market in October: the N9. The device has been receiving excellent reviews, even before its release, but even if it succeeds, Nokia has no plans to introduce follow-up devices, say sources close to the company.
For its part, Intel public relations issued a terse, one-sentence statement to SD Times, saying, “We’re committed to MeeGo and continue to work with the community to develop and help meet the needs of customers and end users with open source.” But Intel’s actions at its Developer Forum spoke louder than the words in the brief statement.
This year’s Intel developer conference stretches over three stories of the Moscone West convention center. The first floor plays host to registration and the expo hall, while second and third floors are for talks and technology demonstration kiosks. Within those kiosks, Intel is showing hot new laptops, home entertainment systems, high-end gaming PCs and all manner of devices powered by their chips. And yet, among all of this cutting-edge technology, the only tablet on display was running Windows.
On the expo floor, MeeGo held no sway, either. Under the Intel banner, only two devices were running MeeGo, and both were netbooks. All of Intel’s beta tablet hardware, which it was so fond of giving away to developers, were running Android or Windows on the show floor. The only MeeGo tablets on display were in third-party booths as demonstration platforms for software.
Additionally, the conference itself, which offers more than 200 talks and sessions for developers, includes only two MeeGo sessions, both of which combine for less than two hours of talk time. During the MeeGo deep-dive technical talk, the focus was on writing HTML5 applications, and then wrapping them for sale in Intel’s AppUp application store. No time was given to the actual MeeGo OS, or the specifics of its development. The clear message, said one attendee, was that you shouldn’t build for MeeGo; you should build for the Web.
During this same MeeGo deep-dive talk, Intel employees repeatedly claimed that Intel was still supporting the platform, and that such support would not be going away in the future. However, the same talk also demonstrated methods for building cross-platform HTML5 applications, and then deploying them to Windows, another Linux or MeeGo instead of focusing on simply building native MeeGo applications.
Meanwhile, Intel, which had been a strong backer of the platform, appears to have pulled way back on its support for MeeGo events. After Intel footed the bill for a large MeeGo developer conference in San Francisco’s posh Hyatt hotel near the downtown Ferry Building in May, it has decided not to sponsor a MeeGo summit in Malta, and global meetups have begun to scale back as well. The popular Portland meetup, headed by an Intel employee, has gone MIA after skipping July. Future meetings of this group appear to be ad hoc now instead of on a regular schedule.
Dawn Foster, the Intel employee responsible for the Portland meetups, replied to an SD Times inquiry with an e-mail stating, “I checked with our PR people, and it looks like we aren’t really doing interviews for MeeGo right now.”
MeeGo keeps going
The apparent end of Intel’s support of MeeGo is not the end of the road for the platform. The development community around MeeGo continues to release patches and updates. But the egress of Intel from the platform is only one of its many problems.
For months now, the MeeGo development team has been fighting with the Linux Foundation over control of the MeeGo.com domain name. The MeeGo development community has been pushing a new service, apps.MeeGo.com, and has run into conflict with the Linux Foundation over restrictions it has placed on the usage of that sub-domain. The MeeGo team even went as far as registering its own domain name, ForMeeGo.com, and set up apps.ForMeeGo.com as a workaround.
In a statement to SD Times, a spokesperson for the Linux Foundation said, “There hasn’t been any update since early August. We are supportive of the MeeGo Apps community and are working with them.”
On the MeeGo side of that dispute, David Greaves, an open-source developer and contributor to the MeeGo project, laid out the situation on the MeeGo developer’s mailing list. “The Linux Foundation have told us in private conversations that they will not permit apps.MeeGo.com to be served from the MeeGo.com infrastructure hosted by them. They do not have the resources at this time to provide a statement giving their reasons. We cannot assess what other services may be impacted in the future,” he said.
But MeeGo, as a project, is sure to carry on. The developers on the project have continued to submit patches and push the platform forward with updates. Though it has now lost its two biggest corporate sponsors, MeeGo still has a loyal following of dedicated developers.