Linux Foundation chief dubs MeeGo 'unstoppable force'
Nokialess mobile Linux rages on
MeeGo, the Linux-based open source operating system born from the February 2010 shotgun marriage of Nokia's Maemo and Intel's Moblin and left at the altar when Nokia hooked up with Windows Phone 7, is an "unstoppable force" that speeds device-developers' time-to-market, and it stands for "love, courage, and change."
That was the message delivered at the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco on Monday by the executive director of The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin and his supporting keynote cast.
"Companies come and go, people come and go, and things change, and one year it's this, one year it's that, but the fundamental principles remain the same," Zemlin told the crowd, explaining the value of open source projects such as Linux and MeeGo.
"Over a period of time you can just see how large Linux has become," he said, "and how projects like MeeGo become these unstoppable forces that no single entity controls, that no single entity dominates, and that really is the benefit of this collaborative development model."
Demonstrating the ubiquitousness of Linux, Zemlin pointed to its use in air-traffic control systems – "so your life is literally in Linux's hands" – and nuclear submarines – "so your death is in Linux's hands, as well, potentially" – plus other applications such as the CERN supercollider, the digital effects in Avatar, and its role in powering the majority of the world's equity trading markets.
"So it's you life, your death, and your money," he surmised.
Money – the making of it, that is – is fundmental to MeeGo's advanatge as an open source operating system. If you base your product development on MeeGo, Zemlin said, "As a device maker you're dramatically expanding your opportunities. You own the platform, right? You can create your own app stores. You don't have to pay royalties to anyone for it," he said.
"You're in a totally new game, and you're in a much better game – a game where you can control your future. And that is the fundamental advantage that projects like MeeGo have."
And that, Zemlin said, "is why MeeGo will be successful over long periods of time, just like Linux has been successful over very long periods of time."
How long a period of time? "We're really in the first five minutes of a very, very long game with MeeGo," he said, adding that "the fundamentals fundamentally favor open source."
Speaking of time, Meego's time-to-market advantage was hammered home repeatedly not only by Zemlin, but also by a series of presenters who shared his two-hour keynote.
Danielle Levitas of IDC's consumer, broadband, and digital marketplace research group stressed that MeeGo's open source availability gives small developers a leg up on getting products to market quickly without having to start coding their device OS from scratch.
"Who can realistically get to market [with breakthrough technologies] except for a couple of really big companies that own the stack?" she asked. Zemlin echoed that theme, saying, "Unless your name is Apple, Microsoft, or RIM the only way you're going to bring a successful product to market is Linux."
Tsuguo Nobe, General Manager of Nissan Motor Company – who lent big-company cachet to the proceedings – said that a major reason for his company's embrace of MeeGo was its head start in developing the five million lines of code that go into Nissan's automotive software. "The most important thing is time-to-market," he said.
Tore Meyer of the German developer 4tiitoo, publisher of the MeeGo-based WeTab OS for tablets, stressed time-to-market, as well. After giving a demo of a WeTab GmbH's WeTab tablet running his company's WeTab OS, he said: "We launched this device, after deciding for MeeGo, in five months."
Meyer also took a dig at Google's Android operating system for not being truly open source, saying that he was worried about "companies dominating the market" for tablet operating systems. "And we're seeing this in the market already. Suddenly you don't get access to all the code base anymore."
Describing his company's work with a "western Euopean operator", he said that Amino got an order from them in early February, and managed to deliver a product beforee Christmas of the same year. "That is a fantastically fast development," he said, "and was helped in no small part by choosing MeeGo as the platform."
Levitas agreed, saying that "10 months is actually really great time-to-market when there's a service provider involved. Usually its more like, 'don't hold your breath' if it's anything less than 18 months, and it can be even more than that for them to test set-top boxes."
If this all sounds like a MeeGo love-fest, well, that's because it was. Julien Fourgeaud, who Zemlin introduced as the newly hired "Bad Piggy Bank Manager" of Rovio who's building a "virtual economy" for that developer of the astronomically successful game, Angry Birds, specifically cited San Francisco's peace, love, and beads history when he provided a David Letterman–style Top Ten countdown of definitions of MeeGo that he had heard from the MeeGo community during pre-conference workshops.
In Fourgeaud's countdown, after a predictable run of descriptions such as "mobile", "open", "exciting", "flexible", "super-cool", "empowering", and the like, his number one definition of MeeGo was "love, courage, and change". ®
Although most every moment of the MeeGo Conference keynote was sweetness and light, Zemlin did allow himself one pointed poke at the head of the mobile market's most-closed company. After a brief hesitation in a wireless-syncing demo by Collabora engineer Robin Burchell, Zemlin quipped: "I was about to pull a Steve Jobs and just blame the Wi-Fi, like 'All right, if you want to see this, everybody turn the Wi-Fi off'," a reference to Jobs' embarrassing demo glitch when launching the iPhone 4.
I do hope it is not.
Nokia will be releasing one Meego phone pretty soon (it was under development anyway) and it actually looks (if the leaks are true) pretty awesome.
Advantages of Meego are the ease of porting standard linux apps to it, and the possibility of running Android apps using a Dalvik engine on top of it.
If it does at least what my n900 does, I'm already sold. Do not comment on this unless you have actually used an n900 for a while and eplored/used the vast possibilities of it.
what happens when an 'unstoppable force' meets an immovable object?
You didn't ask about business models...
In fairness, you asked about technologies, not business models. Where I see MeeGo's business opportunity is in the vertically-integrated device market (in-car systems are one area, but I can see uses in public information kiosks, industrial control and monitoring and having the OS embedded into existing consumer electronics products). Android would have been a good candidate here, but Google has gone on a consumer push, and their new "open-ish" approach to the tablet OS fork will deter a lot of small solutions providers from choosing it. The missing piece is a commodity tablet chassis. Intel haven't helped matters, but I'm sure there's a lot of activity in Taiwan right now, and I hope we'll see these boards pretty soon.
On the languages, sorry, I can't agree. Almost nobody knew Objective-C when iPhone came out, but a couple of years later, there's an army of Objective-C developers. If there's a market, a good programmer can learn a language and API -- even one as irritating as ObjC.
I would argue that Android's success has less to do with being Java-based than with Google giving the system away for free to handset makers. Developers saw a growing market, so they went for it. And don't forget, a lot of Android apps are C-based too, especially games and existing open-source ports.
Incidentally, Qt is available on Android (and iOS). It's not officially supported by Nokia, but as it's an open-source platform, people can do what they want with Qt. Ironically, the only platform you can't get Qt onto is...
... Windows Phone.