Intel Says No MeeGo Phones Until 2011

An Intel executive says the development of the MeeGo mobile operating system is on track, but MeeGo-based smartphones and tablets won't hit the market until 2011.

Buyers are going to have to wait until next year for smartphones and most tablets running the MeeGo operating system from Intel and Nokia.

Despite comments from Nokia officials throughout the year that smartphones running the open-source OS would be on the market in 2010, an Intel official now is saying those devices won't debut until the first half of 2011.

In an interview with Forbes, Doug Fisher, vice president of Intel's Software and Solutions Group and general manager of its Systems Software Division, said officials with both Intel and Nokia are pleased with the progress of MeeGo's development. The two companies in February announced the partnership to develop the operating system.

Version 1.1 is due out later in 2010, and will offer features-including support for touch-based commands-that are aimed at smartphones and tablets. But those devices won't hit the market until the next year.

The one exception will be the WeTab, an 11.6-inch tablet that runs MeeGo and is powered by Intel's Atom processor. That will be available from Neofonie, a Berlin-based company, later in 2010.

There also are other MeeGo-based devices on the market, such as netbooks and Web-connected televisions.

Both Nokia and Intel are looking to MeeGo to help them in the highly competitive mobile device world. Nokia, while still the world's top cell phone maker, has seen its dominance slip in the face of competition from Apple's iPhone and Google Android-based phones. The company hired Stephen Elop, former president of Microsoft's Business Division, as its new CEO.

In the second quarter, Nokia's share of the smartphone market was 37.5 percent, a drop from 45 percent during the same period in 2009.

For Intel, the combination of MeeGo and its Atom platform represents its shot at expanding its business into the mobile and embedded markets. Intel in September declared the AppUp mobile application store for MeeGo applications to no longer be a beta. The store has about 800 applications, according to Intel. In an effort to expand the number of applications that can run on the Intel platform, the company is working on a tool that will enable developers to move iPhone applications to devices powered by Intel chips.

The mobile space offers Intel a way for its business to grow beyond its PC and server chip roots. It's a business CEO Paul Otellini said Intel should have entered sooner.

"I wish we had started earlier," Otellini said during an Oct. 5 talk in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations. "I wish I had been smart enough to start [working on smartphone processors] seven years ago because we'd be in a good position today, but I wasn't."

In 2006, at a time when Intel's competition with Advanced Micro Devices in the area of PC and server chips was heightened, Intel sold its XScale mobile chip business to Marvell Technology Group. Intel in August bought Infineon Technologies' mobile chip business.

Having the MeeGo-based mobile devices come out next year will make a tough situation that much more difficult for Intel and Nokia. Already there is tremendous momentum behind Apple's iPhone and Google's Android OS, and Microsoft plans to launch its Windows Phone 7 operating system Oct. 11.

In addition, Hewlett-Packard is expected to release devices running its newly acquired WebOS in early 2011.

MeeGo's efforts also took a hit when Ari Jaaksi, Nokia's vice president of devices and head of MeeGo development, left the company.