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Intel and Nokia Merge Moblin and Maemo

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In what might best be characterized as an unlikely partnership, technology giants Intel and Nokia have announced they will be merging their respective Linux-based mobile device platforms Moblin and Maemo into a single unified platform dubbed MeeGo. According to the companies, MeeGo will offer a unified Linux-based platform with open-source tools that will support a very broad range of devices, ranging from smartphones, tablets, and netbooks through net-connected TVs and in-vehicle computer systems. And the first release of MeeGo should happen in the second quarter of 2010, with the first MeeGo-powered devices coming later in the year.

“Our vision for seamlessly communicating between computing devices from the home, auto, office or your pocket is taking a big step forward today with the introduction of MeeGo,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini, in a statement. “This is a foundational step in our evolving relationship with Nokia. The merging of these two important assets into an open source platform is critical toward providing a terrific experience across a variety of devices and gaining cross- industry support.”

The companies are positioning MeeGo as the best parts of Moblin and Maemo, aimed at birthing an entire eco-system of Internet-enabled devices for consumers. The platform will apparently be based on Intel’s core Moblin operating system, and plop the Maemo user interface framework and Qt application and development environment on top. MeeGo devices from Nokia will tap into Nokia’s Ovi Store as a default location to pick up applications and content, while devices from other manufacturers will rely on the Intel AppUp Center. Intel and Nokia are also promising that since MeeGo will run on multiple types of devices, users will be able to keep their applications when they switch devices…that way they aren’t locked into any single manufacturer or device. The MeeGo platform will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

So far, Nokia would seem to be a little ahead of the game, having already shipped its Maemo-based N900. Nokia’s interest in MeeGo would seem to be getting its platform and technology into a variety of markets that would not normally consider Nokia tech as a basis for its devices; Intel, conversely, picks up development tools and application interfaces that have been designed and road-tested by the biggest handset manufacturer on the planet. The move could be a win-win that births a whole new generation of Internet-savvy mobile technology…or it might just be another one of those corporate partnerships that becomes a mere footnote in a few years. Time will tell.