There was a growing fear among handset manufacturers that Nokia, Apple and Blackberry were taking the lead in the mobile industry. This left no room for smaller companies like Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Dell, etc. for joining the mobile industry. Why ? Simply because the best Mobile OS(Operating Systems) were made by Apple, Nokia and Blackberry.. Without a good OS manufacturing a phone is worthless.
Thats why in November 2007, 35 big handset companies came together to form the OHA(Open Handset Alliance). The OHA was lead by Google who had acquired Android Inc.(a small team devoted to provide a better mobile experience) and using the expertise at Google the OHA released the Android software platform as open source.
This was a big hit for most smaller companies. Handset manufacturers could now focus on the hardware and install the latest version of Android with minimum charges. Thus a revolution of new devices started appearing as the cost of manufacturing a suitable mobile OS was reduced.
This is partly the reason for the success of Android. To support Android, all you need to do is manufacture a handset and install the Android OS. If you want to advertise the fact that you use Android, then you must get the approval from Google at a small fee. This is not much of an issue for a handset manufacturer.
As you may have guessed, this meant trouble for Nokia, Apple and Blackberry..
Samsung left its bada OS in favor of Android. This boosted sales for Samsung.
Blackberry had a clear advantage – The Blackberry Enterprise Server – The IT standard for push email with high security.
Apple had a clear advantage – The iOS – The best ever known mobile OS.
Nokia – ??
Well, Nokia had acquired the Symbian Foundation and used the Symbian OS on all its devices, but fact was that Android was way better than Symbian. To make Symbian usable is not a pleasant experience. As one of the respected GNOME developers stated “It is not easy to make the Hippo dance.”
Nokia had to come up with something. It realized what Google did immediately, used the term “open-source.” So immediately Nokia announced that Symbian would gradually become open source. But by the time it became open source, Android had acquired more market share. Did I tell you that Android outperformed Symbian by now ?
Nokia realized that it needed an alternative. Symbian was a dying platform. It had to be tweaked a lot. This was not an easy task. So Nokia decided to use the world’s most advanced OS – LINUX !
Do I sound crazy ? Linux is a free and open source OS kernel(most important component of an OS). It was used a lot on PCs and Laptops. I repeat – PCs and Laptops..
The new mobile OS was called Maemo. This was one of the first major attempts to use the Linux kernel in a mobile environment. There were other attempts, but rather insignificant, except for one, which happened almost the same time.
It turned out that Intel – The World’s leading silicon chip-set manufacturer – was developing its own Linux OS for mobile devices – called Moblin. Why ?? Intel stated “Mobile OS disappoint us as they do not support the Intel Atom.” Intel Atom is a stripped down version of the x86 architecture. Most software is written on the x86 architecture. But Mobile OS usually supported the ARM architecture because it was easier to license ARM and ARM processors usually consumed less power.
Nokia and Intel realized that they had the same goal in mind – to create the first (truly) Linux based OS. Thus they merged both their projects into what is today known as MeeGo.
MeeGo being linux had its core kernel(linux) under the General Public License(GPL). The User Interface was licensed in permissive licenses like the MIT License. To keep it free and open source, the project was hosted by the LINUX Foundation.
MeeGo was a promise for an open mobile OS. However, when Nokia decided to team up with Microsoft, there aroused some doubt about the future of the MeeGo platform.
Nokia left development for MeeGo. However people failed to realize the truth. MeeGo still lives.
After Nokia abandoned MeeGo, Intel continued to support it. This is the beauty of a platform like MeeGo. Its not owned by any company. Android does not follow this kind of a principle. Android is owned by Google, but MeeGo is truly free and open source.
Today MeeGo is being developed by Linux Foundation, Intel, Nokia, Novell, AMD and several others. The beauty of it is that any company can join MeeGo development. This is not true for Android – since only Google and their approved companies can officially develop Android, although unofficially anyone can develop it.
Thats only part of the advantage of developing for Meego. The main advantage is that the Meego platform supports x86 architecture. This means that all applications running on a desktop can easily be ported to the mobile world. There are millions of free linux applications out there that are just waiting to be ported to MeeGo with the simple changes.
Intel had stated that mobiles running the Intel Atom processor will be released in 2011. This is a huge hit in the mobile industry. The worlds most advanced architecture – The x86 is now coming to mobile consumers.
Also MeeGo is using the Qt framework for GUI(Graphical User Interface). Qt is C++ binding for creating GUI applications. It is one of the most popular GUI frameworks.
The fact that MeeGo apps are all written in C++(usually) means that MeeGo performs better than Android. As a developer, anyone would be able to say that C++ is directly related to the hardware and thus it runs really fast. However Android is written in Java and works on the Dalvik Virtual Machine thus interpretation of Java code means slower programs. People don’t realize it but you need really powerful processors(at least 600MHz ARM processor) to enjoy the true experience of Android. Linus Torvalds had once said “If your not fast enough, (then) your not worth using.” Thats a fact. Android is not fast enough, since Java is not fast enough. Its just popular since you don’t expect that speed in a mobile environment.
MeeGo being an open platform, was modified by a lot of external sources who eventually came up with alternatives. The standard MeeGo platform was kept intact but the user interface was changed to suit mobiles, tablets, vehicles, TVs and netbooks. This meant that the applications that run on the standard MeeGo platform will be able to run on MeeGo phones, tablets, TVs, vehicles, etc. without any modifications. This is a big success for a developer as he can develop for one platform and deploy his program on all platforms.
So to simply sum up, why should someone develop for MeeGo:
- MeeGo is not owned by any company – so it can live on even if the creators abandon it. (Good eg. Nokia)
- MeeGo is hosted by the Linux Foundation who ensure that the platform is always free and open source
- MeeGo supports the ARM and x86 architecture – This means that it’ll run applications already running on a desktop
- MeeGo is supported by the leading companies of the world – Intel, Novell and AMD just to name a few
- MeeGo uses C++ so its applications are faster than Android applications
- Meego uses the Qt framework which is well known to a lot of developers
- MeeGo runs everywhere – Handsets, Tablets, TVs and in-vehicle devices