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MeeGo partners reveal strong China focus

Apr 13, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The Linux Foundation (LF) announced 27 partners in the MeeGo mobile Linux project, which is principally backed by Intel and Nokia. Companies that have pledged support for the MeeGo merger of the Linux-based Moblin and Maemo distributions include device vendors Acer and Asus, set-top maker Amino, automotive firm BMW Group, and a number of software firms based in China.

The new MeeGo partners include a mix of device vendors spanning netbook, smartphone, automotive infotainment, and set-top box (STB) segments (see details farther below). The majority of the partners, however, are software companies, including those offering applications, games, and Linux distributions, most of which previously supported Moblin. A number of the partners are based in China, Taiwan, and other Asian countries, indicating that Asia may be a central focus for MeeGo.

The announcement arrives in conjunction with three major annual events in the Linux world. CELF's Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) started yesterday at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, and will continue through tomorrow. Attendees will enjoy free admission tomorrow to the invitation-only LF Collaboration Summit, which will host a MeeGo workshop. Yesterday in Beijing, meanwhile, Intel opened its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) meeting, which is also sponsoring MeeGo activities. 

Intel and Nokia announced the MeeGo platform at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, the MeeGo project combines two open source Linux projects: the Intel-backed Moblin and Nokia's Maemo distribution. Aimed at mobile devices ranging from handhelds to netbooks, MeeGo incorporates Nokia's Qt application framework.

Earlier this month, the MeeGo project released some early code for the open source distro, with the promise of making its first formal release (presumably alpha) next month. Early reference platforms include Intel Atom-based netbooks, the ARM Cortex-A8- and Maemo-based Nokia N900 smartphone, and the Aava Mobile's Moorestown-based Aava phone design (pictured above, right).

Below, we have categorized the new MeeGo partners by organization type, although there is some overlap between the categories for several of the companies:

  • Netbook, tablet, and smartphone manufacturers (Acer, Asus) — These are two of the biggest fish caught by MeeGo, since they will be building the netbooks, and perhaps tablets, MIDs, smartphones, and other mobile devices that will presumably ship with MeeGo-based distributions. The presence of these huge, Taiwanese consumer device manufacturers is not surprising, however, considering that they have both thrived on selling netbooks that run on the Intel Atom, MeeGo's principal processor target.

    Neither company has been a major Moblin booster, however. Asus has been staunchly in the Microsoft Windows camp, although it has indicated it would offer Moblin on some of its Eee PC netbooks. Acer has said it would sell a version of the Acer Aspire netbook with a Moblin-based version of Novell's SUSE Linux. Today, a PCWorld story reported that at the IDF meeting in Beijing, Acer is showing a netbook running MeeGo (see link farther below).

    Both Acer and Asus also make smartphones, including Android models. Acer sells the Liquid and two lower-end BeTouch models, and the Garmin-Asus partnership with Garmin recently announced an Android version of its Nuvifone. It would not be surprising, meanwhile, if either Acer or Asus introduced MeeGo-based MIDs or tablets later this year, although they may instead focus on Android and/or Windows 7.

  • STB vendors (Amino) — Amino appears to be the lone set-top box (STB) vendor in the mix. The British firm, which has claimed to have sold over two million Linux-based STBs, typically uses ARM processors on STB models such as the A532 (pictured), and it would likely continue to do so on a MeeGo-based project.
  • Automotive IVI (BMW Group) — Last March, this European automaker joined Intel, various auto manufacturers, and other technology firms in forming the Genivi Alliance, with the goal of developing a In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) reference design and middleware based on an Intel Atom platform running Moblin on a Wind River Linux platform. Automotive infotainment is also a targeted segment for MeeGo.

    Stated Graham Smethurst, Genivi Alliance president, as well as GM, Information and Communications Systems, BMW Group, "The first generation of the GENIVI reference platform is based on Moblin and the transition to MeeGo with its support of multiple architectures will make it more attractive to the industry."

  • Semiconductors (ST-Ericsson) — ST-Ericsson joins Intel as the other chipmaker in the group. The company, which focuses on processors for mobile devices, recently announced an ARM9-based U6715 chipset designed for low-cost smartphones running Android or Linux.
  • Networking (Cisco) — Networking and telecom giant Cisco (which also sells Linux-based Linksys routers) was not listed in the LF's official MeeGo partner list. However, the company supplied a testimonial quote at the end of the release.

    Stated Brett Galloway, SVP Wireless, Security and Routing Technology Group for Cisco, "MeeGo represents an exciting development in the mobile computing space because it offers a new open source platform which can reduce the complexity for developing and delivering collaboration, web conferencing and security applications for different types of next generation mobile devices. Cisco has strong relationships with Nokia and Intel and we look forward to working with them and the MeeGo community."

  • Operating system vendors (Asianux, DeviceVM, Linpus, Mandriva, Metasys, Miracle, Novell, PixArt, Red Flag, TurboLinux, WTEC, Xandros) — Linux netbook distribution vendors supporting MeeGo include Mandriva, Novell, TurboLinux, and Xandros, as well as Linpus, which announced its support earlier this month. Most of these organizations have either promised or delivered Linux distributions for netbooks based on all or parts of Moblin v2.0. (Notable no-shows that have previously supported Moblin include Canonical's Ubuntu and Fedora.)

    DeviceVM, meanwhile, makes the Splashtop fast-boot Linux technology, while Xandros offers both a standard and a fast-boot "Presto" version of its Linux distro. Metasys has collaborated with Intel on its Classmate PC project.

    One new partner, Beijing-based Red Flag, offers both MID and netbook versions of Moblin called Midinux, which is based on Asianux Linux, and says it will offer a MeeGo-based automotive IVI distro as well. Another China-based firm, WTEC, which bills itself as an Asianux distributor, also joined the MeeGo partner list. In addition, Japanese firm Miracle announced support for MeeGo with its Asianux-based Miracle Linux distro.

    Finally, Argentina-based PixArt, which makes the Debian-based Rxart distribution, will support MeeGo. PixArt offers a quote from its CEO Gabriel Marcelo Ortiz, saying, "The strong momentum of MeeGo has allowed PixArt to gain entry into the automotive segment."

  • General software and consulting firms (Collabora, CS2C, Hancom, VietSoftware) — This category includes a mix of consulting firms (UK-based Collabora, Ltd)., and general Linux software companies, including Vietnam-based VietSoftware International (often referred to as VSII), and Korea-based Hancom.

    China Standard Software Company (CS2C), released a testimonial from CEO Han Naiping, stating "CS2C has seen great success with Moblin-based products in netbooks and entry-level desktops in the China Go Rural program that boosts rural development with IT."

  • Game software (EA Mobile, Gameloft) — The presence of EA Mobile and Gameloft suggests that MeeGo is hoping to establish itself with mobile games as well as productivity and web-browsing services.
  • Linux tools and embedded distros (MontaVista Software, Wind River Linux) — It is natural that Intel subsidiary Wind River would support MeeGo, and not entirely surprising that its chief rival in the commercial embedded Linux market distribution and tools market, Cavium-owned MontaVista Software, would also sign up.

    Stated Dan Cauchy, VP of Marketing and Business Development, MontaVista Software, "By leveraging the benefits of MeeGo, device manufacturers will be able to deliver innovative solutions for handsets and other consumer-based embedded devices."

  • Internet services (Tencent) — New MeeGo partner Tencent bills itself as fielding China's largest internet service portal, and offers Internet-based games and a QQ instant messaging platform. According to PCWorld, Intel has signed a deal with Tencent to launch of a joint innovation center for MeeGo in China and "extend products and services for emerging device segments."

    In the LF release, Jeff Xiong, Tencent Co-CTO and EVP, offers the following statement: "As a leading service provider in China, with more than one billion registered users, Tencent believes MeeGo is one of the most promising platforms for our cross platform service offerings. Developing on MeeGo will enable us to establish a common software framework across multiple devices, ranging from smartphones and tablets to netbooks."

  • Community organizations (Maemo Community Council) — The endorsement of the five-person Maemo Community Council is an important political statement for MeeGo. It offers the official support from a Maemo community that may not be entirely comfortable with Maemo disappearing into a MeeGo distribution that appears to be more Moblin than Maemo.

    Stated Andrew Flegg, chairman, Maemo Community Council, "MeeGo is the natural evolution of Maemo. The Maemo community, active since Nokia's 2005 introduction of the 770 Internet Tablet, is well positioned to share in the benefits of improved tooling, a wider range of devices and a larger pool of innovative ideas made possible by MeeGo."

Stated Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, "The MeeGo project is being met with enthusiastic support from companies and developers who want to seize the market opportunity that exists for the next-generation of computing devices."

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