In the wake of Nokia's adoption of WP7, it's been easy to get down on MeeGo's prospects for the future. I came to MWC 2011 expecting to see – and hear- very little about this embattled OS. And then I attended Intel's executive press talk.
Surprisingly, MeeGo was the prime focus of that discussion. Intel's reps were very clear that they planned to support the OS heavily going forward. While they expressed disappointment in Nokia for "abandoning" MeeGo, they were adamant that this would not be the open source operating system's end.
"There needs to be an open source platform that crosses device categories." Which was basically Intel's argument during the MeeGo summit as well. To reinforce these words, they had a few MeeGo tablets at the show- and gave us all a detailed walkthrough of the new MeeGo tablet OS.
Rather than being app-focused, MeeGo's UI builds itself up around the individual user, incorporating live tiles that aggregate things like social media, music, and gaming together in a meshed series of interactive widgets. It looked great, but MeeGo has always looked great. Looks matter a lot less than products in the field. It doesn't matter how pretty MeeGo is if no one uses it.
Intel promises that we will see roughly thirty MeeGo products hit stores by the end of this year (worldwide). Those will range from tablets and smartphones to in-vehicle computers and connected televisions. I was assured that at least one or two of those devices will be ARM-based. Intel sees MeeGo as a "viral community effort", not a project "for" Nokia or Intel. Still, it is impossible to deny the pall that Nokia's announcement cast over the development community.
As focused as Intel seems to be, I still have major doubts about MeeGo's viability. At this point, it seems almost ruinously late to market- and Nokia's withdrawal is worrisome indeed. It'll take more than some pretty words from Intel to renew confidence in the OS. We need a major MeeGo product launch, and we need it yesterday.