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Zombie mobile Linuxes mate

MeeGo and LiMo cadavers elope

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The two leading mobile Linux flops are merging, according to a reputable source: LiMo and MeeGo are throwing their lot in together to produce one unified mobile Linux flop – or perhaps there is an afterlife, after all.

FT Deutschland reckons the mating dance of the two zombies will be announced tomorrow. The FT positions it as an exit strategy for Intel, which founded MeeGo with Nokia. [English translation]

The LiMo Foundation emerged in 2007 with heavyweight support from network operators – Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo and the Koreans, particularly Samsung. Its Linux consortium backing made it highly political, and it was sold on a negative: it wasn't something else. LiMO's fortunes faded after its debutant phone, the Vodafone 360 phone, flopped.

Long-time readers will remember the Mobile Linux Initiative, and perhaps the Linux Phone Standardisation Forum. And before that, Motorola's great push into Linux in 2003. After thousands of man-years of work, that still couldn't produce a working 3G phone.

MeeGo is the product of an earlier unnatural alliance – of Nokia's erstwhile strategic platform Maemo and Intel's do-it-all Moblin. Maemo was on track to appear in competitive mobile phones until a merger with Intel derailed it. Nokia had already produced several generations of devices powered by Maemo, and had a clear idea of what it should do: smartphones and small tablets. Then Intel turned up, with talk of putting it in set-top boxes and cars. In the time it took to clarify matters, Android seized the initiative.

Meanwhile, LiMO had seized the dictionary.

"LiMo 4, under LiMo’s proven collaborative governance model, enables flexible disaggregation of the device platform and the service propositions such that operators and device manufacturers can more freely shape attractive user propositions and secure sustainable long-term value," said Morgan Gillis, LiMo executive director, in a canned statement announcing version 4 earlier this year.

MeeGo became a casualty of Nokia's switch to Windows earlier this year. Then, ironically, a beautiful (and competitive) MeeGo phone appeared – the Nokia N9. ®

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