MeeGo was one of the most promising open source mobile platform developed by Intel in conjunction with Nokia. I have been tracking Intel's MID (Mobile Internet Devices) efforts from my Linux For You days when I asked about it during an Intel event in Jaipur (India) and Intel director Narendra Bhandari took it to himself to explain about the project.
Intel worked with Nokia to transform its Maemo platform into MeeGo to help Intel realise its MID aspirations. Everything was going of well, despite the slow yet promising development of MeeGo. Then came Microsoft's Stephen Elop who infamously killed almost all of Nokia's open source projects and reduced the once market leader into a hardware dilevery truck for Microsoft's failed mobile OS.
That was the time when Nokia released MeeGo powered N9 which was a surprising success. However, Stephen Elop made the infamous statement that "even if the N9 proves a massive hit, Nokia is going to turn its attention to other, more Windows Mobiley things."
The end of MeeGo at Nokia brought Intel closer to Samsung to now merge their Bada efforts with MeeGo and create the third reincarnation of Moblin as Tizen. The announcement was made in 2011 but Samsung has not yet made any announcement around merging Bada with Tizen. That leaves one wondering what happens to MeeGo, which powered the one of the most popular Nokia device Nokia N 9?
MeeGo was clinically dead.
However, the work that went in MeeGo did not go waste. It has evolved as a 'promising' OS. Earlier this month Jussi Hurmola, the ex-director of MeeGo at Nokia, announced a start-up called Jolla Mobile to bring MeeGo to the market. The fact is the company Jolla was created in October last year and it seems the team was waiting to see how things unfold.
As a start-up Jolla Mobile is already in a good state. According to a recent interview they already have more than 50 employees and they are planning to grow to 100 by the year end. The company also has said that they already have the magic 10 million Euros that they needed to push the company.
When I asked about the organizational structure Jussi said, "Jolla has a very dynamic structure. We have 3 levels in the company - engineers/designers, chiefs and executives. Chiefs emerge from the teams through their contribution and merits. The teams are changing in our development and business iterations to match the current targets. Jolla employee compensation is based on contribution in the previous business or development iterations."
Jolla is based on MeeGo so how are they going to handle the trademark issues? Jussi said that since "MeeGo and Linux are trademarks of the Linux Foundation, so naturally we want to work closely with them."
As I stated above MeeGo was more about Intel. It was Moblin reincarnating in different avatars. So what role is Intel going to play in Jolla? When asked if they are working with Intel, Jussi said, "We haven't publicly named any of our strategic partners as of yet. We hope to be able to start doing this within the next few weeks."
Initially MeeGo was aimed at netbooks, smatphones and tablets -- a market in which Intel wanted to increase its foot print. So, what markets will Jolla Mobile target? "The first device that Jolla will bring to the market is a smartphone. MeeGo as a distribution supports many different device categories like tablets, TV's, IVI's and other embedded devices," says Jussi.
Mobile industry has become a landmine filled with software patents. Will Jolla get any patent protection from Nokia? Will the two lock horns in the court? Jussi is hopeful, "We do not expect to have patent related disputes with Nokia, we have been open towards them and they have been open towards us. We are in similar positions as other players in this market. We will license the basic IPR's from others and develop our own portfolio."
Jolla has seemingly done what Intel has failed to achieve with its high-profile partnerships. The start-up already has an in-demand product N9 to prove the potential MeeGo holds. It has the needed money, a great team and a deal with a leading Chinese player.
Asia was the core market of Nokia, which it has lost. Does MeeGo know the pulse of Asia, one of the largest mobile markets? Will MeeGo join Android as a leading open source mobile OS?
We will know answers to these questions once the fist MeeGo device hits the market.
[We would like to thank Paul Gahye, Alessandro Ebersol, Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Daniel Sandman and Christopher Baluyut for helping us in framing the questions]