Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meego battles the odds in platform war

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Announced in February, MeeGo will effectively combine Intel’s netbook-focused Moblin platform with Nokia’s cross-platform application framework, Qt, and the cellular integration work Nokia has done in its own Maemo Linux flavour.

It represents the first concerted effort to create a complete, robust, and scalable device and application platform that spans an array of device categories** while offering original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers complete freedom to modify the platform and user experience as desired.

Its flexibility means MeeGo devices will likely become commonplace in a short space of time. However, Ovum doubts Meego’s short-term ability to upset the increasingly vertically integrated, vendor-driven offerings from Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum and report author, said the volume and variety of devices on which MeeGo is deployed may prove meaningless unless the consistency in the underlying OS is not matched by its ability to provide a true multi-screen application platform for developers.

He added, “The reality is that Nokia and Intel need to sell more Meego devices if they want access to the potentially lucrative seam of tools, consulting, and systems integration surrounding cross-platform, multi-screen application development that Qt offers.

“For the wholesale leveraging of Qt to become a reality, developers must ultimately be persuaded that it is a better cross-platform, cross-device application and UX platform than the alternatives.

“This is a big ask. From the perspective of most third-party developers, MeeGo remains an unknown and unproven quantity that is entering an already highly competitive and crowded landscape.”

In the short term, Ovum believes Nokia and Intel should ignore smartphones and push the case for cross-platform Qt development in other devices, then capitalise on any successes to “cross-sell” the benefits of Qt development onto Nokia’s Qt-enabled feature and smartphones.

“Doing so may not prove easy, and will require considerable investment”, said Cripps. “We have yet to see whether MeeGo and its backers have the stomach for the fight, but it would be wrong to write off its chances until we see the merchandise.”

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