Saturday, 09 October 2010 23:33

Intel/Nokia MeeGo phones are no go until 1st half of 2011


Despite the iOS, Android and soon-to-come Windows Phone 7 onslaughts, Intel and Nokia's MeeGo OS won't be powering publicly available smartphones until the first half of 2011, according to an Intel executive, seeing the same kind of delays plaguing many other tablet and smartphone competitors.

In an interview with Forbes, Doug Fisher, Vice President of Intel's Software and Solutions Group and General Manager of Intel's Systems Software Division, said that MeeGo powered handsets would arrive in the first half of 2011.

Proclaiming to be 'very pleased with MeeGo's progress so far', Forbes noted that MeeGo 1.0 for netbooks was released in May, a 'preview' of the software for handsets was released in June and a 1.1 update with support for 'touch-based commands and telephony' for tablets and smartphones is due 'later this month'.

The article also notes that the WeTab tablet from the German company Neofonie will be the only tablet available this year with a MeeGo build, as well as some netbooks and TVs with IPTV capabilities, with plenty more to come in 2011.

It's a shame that Nokia and Intel couldn't get MeeGo out for 2010 in an iPhone iOS battling form, but if it's not ready, it's not ready and there's no point releasing unfinished products, or you end up with MeeGo's predecessor, the Maemo-powered Nokia N900, which although very powerful and practically a palm-sized laptop more than smartphone, completely lacked virtually all of the elegance found in the iPhone iOS and much of that in Google Android.

So, waiting longer is the order of the day. Indeed, delay seems to be in vogue at the moment as competitors are simply unready, while Apple sells millions of iPads and iPhones, and Google's Android powers millions of iPhone-clone/wannabe-killer handsets.

HP's WebOS inside a Palm Pre/Pixi update and a PalmPad has not yet been released, while BlackBerry's QNX OS powered PlayBook isn't coming until next year and any future QNX OS-powered BlackBerry devices are still months off from public availability, if not longer.

Microsoft promises Windows 7 tablets by year's end, but unless they come with a finger-friendly skin of some kind, they're just not as easy to use as Apple's iPad or Google's Android phones, even when tweaked to display bigger fonts, bigger scroll boxes and bigger buttons. Even if Windows Tablets come with a much more powerful processor than Apple's A4 chip, Apple still leads in thin-and light tablet stakes with battery life of 10 hours.

Perhaps Microsoft will better catch up when it releases its far more tablet optimised Windows 8, presumably sometime in 2011 or 2012. 

Then there's the very intriguing Windows Phone 7 devices with their smooth, bold graphics. They're said to be very imminent with a local October 12 press event to divulge more details, but they're still not here - and neither are any tablets which could be powered by a tablet-optimised Windows Phone 7 OS, instead of waiting for Windows 8'¦

More smartphone and tablet thoughts continue on page two, please read on!

Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab will be available for retail purchase in November and the Dell Streak, which is available now, are either here or nearly so, and while they run (or will run) Android OS 2.2, they're both more 'large smartphones' than real tablets, with Google saying Android OS 3.0 or Gingerbread will be the true tablet-optimised Android release.

There's Google's Chrome OS to come too, and while that's aimed at netbooks it's surely already being tablet-optimised internally for future 2011 release.

There's also Samsung with its own Bada OS, which could be tabletised, too, but with so much competition Samsung will really need to put in a major superhuman 111% effort to ensure it generates some bada bing to see bada bloom.

Now Intel and Nokia Meego powered tablets aside from the first-gen WeTab won't see the light of day until 2011, and any MeeGo-enabled successor to the upcoming Symbian^3 powered Nokia N8 will presumably appear around that time, too.

So, while an influx of MeeGo devices is no go until the first half of 2011, frenzied competition in creating next generation mobile OSes, interfaces and apps while keeping consumers and developers happy continues at record pace.

Microsoft has been very busily - and successfully - courting its existing developers to start building apps for the Windows Phone 7 platform, Intel has released a netbook App Store with 1000 apps, iOS and Android development is rocketing along and everyone else with a smartphone and OS platform is trying to drum up as much interest and activity as possible.

Despite all of this frenetic activity, which has made smartphones ever smarter and tablets a hotly desired consumer electronics device after nearly a decade of Microsoft's Tablet PC initiative, preceded by Apple's own Newton, Palm Pilots and even early Pen Windows 3.1 versions, Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and iOS are still the firm leaders and enjoy the majority of the momentum.

But unlike Microsoft's 90%+ majority stranglehold on the desktop OS market, the smartphone and tablet segment is absolutely on fire, with plenty of growth, sales and apps to come.

2010's not over yet, but 2011 will come with plenty of surprises for tablets, smartphones, netbooks and notebooks. Grab your favourite mobile device and enjoy the ride!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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