MeeGo, Android phone platforms take stage at Linux conference

Nokia, Google officials offer progress reports on their open source device OSes

Advocates for dueling open source mobile platforms Android and MeeGo championed their technologies Wednesday, with a MeeGo spokesman offering a product road map and a Google technologist emphasizing Android's release schedule and addressing fragmentation questions.

Both platforms were touted at The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit conference in San Francisco in separate presentations.

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MeeGo is a Nokia- and Intel-driven mobile OS effort derived from the prior Maemo and Moblin platforms. MeeGo is a Linux project hosted by the Linux Foundation.

"Our goal is to provide the industry with an open platform for various kinds of devices," said Ari Jaaksi, vice president of Maemo devices and MeeGo operations at Nokia.

"MeeGo combines two existing projects that were pretty vibrant in their own field," Jaaksi said.

Announced in February, the platform had its first code drop on March 31 with a preliminary version of MeeGo 10.2. A code-complete release of Version 10.2 is due this calendar quarter, while a code-complete release of MeeGo 10.4 is set for the final quarter of this year.

MeeGo is intended for media phones, netbooks, connected TVs, handsets, and IVI systems.  It features a UI/application development environment based on the Qt framework.

Asked how MeeGo would compete in a crowded mobile phone field that also includes products from rivals such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft, Jaaksi responded, "We're going to make staggeringly good phones based on MeeGo."

MeeGo joins another open source device OS effort backed by Nokia-Symbian. Nokia will build high-end smartphones, or "mobile computers," based on MeeGo, while Nokia's Symbian systems will be mid- and lower-range devices, Jaaksi explained.

Jaaksi invited community participation in ongoing development of the platform. Application developers also are being sought, he said.

Also at the conference, Google's Chris DiBona, open source program manager, stressed that the size of the mobile phone marketplace leaves enough room for a variety of players.

"MeeGo doesn't have to lose for Android to be great; Android doesn't have to lose for MeeGo to be great," DiBona said.

"I want Android to succeed not because Meego has to fail. I think MeeGo's great," DiBona said.

He noted Android's rapid release schedule. "We had four major releases of Android in 2009," he said.

The issue of potential fragmentation in the Android market, however, was raised in a recent analyst report. An attendee at the conference suggested that the choice of the Apache license for Android can drive fragmentation because code does not have to be contributed back to the community at large.

But DiBona, during his presentation and afterward, played down the notion of fragmentation. He said he did not think the Apache license causes fragmentation and added that most developers stick to the APIs.

Fragmentation could become an issue, however, if Android loses its technological edge, he said. There has been some intentional fragmentation when it was necessary for devices such as the Barnes & Noble nook ebook reader.

Questioned about plans for a tablet device based on Android, DiBona said he had no information other than that companies such as Archos have shipped such devices.

"I have no idea what our plans are about the tablet, and if I knew, I couldn't say," said DiBona.

Android was first released in October 2008. Companies such as Motorola, Samsung, and Google itself ship Android-based devices.

For developer outreach in Cuba, DiBona expressed a wish that the United States government would take Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

This article, "MeeGo, Android phone platforms take stage at Linux conference," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

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