Intel CEO Paul Otellini put a brave face on prospects for his company's MeeGo smartphone operating system, whose long-term fate seems uncertain in the wake of Nokia embracing Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 as its primary mobile software. Intel and Nokia had developed MeeGo hand-in-hand.
"I don't see that Nokia changing its strategy changes the industry strategy," Otellini told Bloomberg at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. "The operators still look for an open, operator-friendly operating system."
That report also had Otellini saying he "understood" why Nokia and Microsoft would enter into an agreement. Despite signing onto Windows Phone 7 as its main platform, Nokia plans to release a mobile device running MeeGo sometime this year. For its part, Intel apparently has MeeGo-loaded tablets in the works, along with smartphones, but the exact launch date for those devices remains uniformly unclear.
Other companies and carriers continue to participate with Intel in MeeGo's development, including Advanced Micro Devices, Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson, Novell, Sprint and Telefonica.
MeeGo made its original debut at Mobile World Congress in 2010, but Intel waited nine months before bringing AppUp, the platform's application store, out of beta. The interface divides content into touch-activated vertical columns loaded with the user's videos, music, contacts and the like.
In the meantime, the agreement between Microsoft and Nokia promises to radically alter the mobile landscape in coming years, although analysts seem in general agreement that the two companies need to move quickly in putting Windows Phone 7 devices on the market.
"With the Microosft deal unlikely to yield any products for nearly one year, Nokia will have no choice except to remain awkwardly reliant on the Symbian and MeeGo platforms in 2011," William Kidd, an analyst with IHS iSuppli, wrote in a Feb. 14 research note. "This will have further negative impact on Nokia's already-eroding position in smartphones."
Concept images of Nokia-built Windows Phone 7 devices are drifting around Websites such as Winrumors. The devices' sleek bodies seem tailored as a response to high-end smartphones such as the iPhone and Motorola Droid franchise. Whether those designs correspond with a final product remains a question that may not be answered until 2012, however.
Nokia's agreement with Microsoft could help the latter penetrate the international markets where the former maintains a strong presence. That being said, Nokia's placement as dead-last among top mobile OEMs, according to the latest data from research firm comScore, suggests the deal may have less impact on the U.S. market.
With or without Nokia's support, MeeGo faces substantial competition from the likes of Google Android, Apple's iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry franchise and PlayBook tablet.