Applications written for Meego netbooks will work on devices running Tizen, the new Linux-based mobile OS project from Intel and Samsung, but Meego apps written for smartphones won't work on Tizen devices, Intel said.
On Wednesday, the LiMo Foundation announced the development of a new mobile operating system that will be hosted by the Linux Foundation. Although LiMo's announcement didn't mention Intel or Meego, Intel wrote in a blog post that it would back Tizen at the expense of Meego.
Meego was formed early last year through the merger of two separate OS projects at Intel and Nokia. However, it has struggled to get off the ground and Nokia introduced its first Meego phone only this week.
Because Meego netbooks are "fairly well established," Intel will add APIs to ensure applications written for them will work in Tizen, said Imad Sousou, director of the Intel Open Source Technology Center. Asus, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba have made Meego devices, but they have only a minimal presence in the market.
"On mobile, obviously, the situation is different in terms of deployment," Sousou said. Since there are few Meego phones in use, Intel has decided not to encumber Tizen with legacy APIs, he said.
Tizen will reuse a fair amount of Meego, according to Sousou. Several components from Meego, including the file system and the Linux OS distribution, will be used in Tizen. Other features that are already shared between Meego and LiMo, another open source phone platform, including a lot of the middleware and the connection management system, will also become part of Tizen.
"The thing to remember is that Meego and the work done primarily by Samsung and LiMo have somewhat the same roots," Sousou said.
LiMo is an important partner in the project because of its operator members, he said. Having the customer and industry input will be important to the development of Tizen, he said.
The Tizen project is structured such that no single entity can control the development or block another company from contributing, Sousou said. He hopes that will encourage participation from companies that may be competitors to Samsung and Intel.
Intel appeared to be holding back some details of Tizen. Asked why a consumer would choose a phone running Tizen instead of Android, iOS or Windows Phone, Sousou said he wasn't prepared to answer that question at the moment but would talk about it in the future. He also declined to say why a handset maker might be interested in Tizen.
One reason phone manufacturers might use Tizen is because it appears that it will be truly open, said Jack Gold, an analyst with J Gold Associates. He expects Google to start clamping down soon on how much customisation handset makers can do with Android. Phone makers such as HTC have developed their own user interfaces for Android, but the additional software seems to have slowed the process of updating phones to the latest versions of the operating system.
Manufacturers that want a customised UI could therefore gravitate toward Tizen. In addition, some handset makers who use Android are wary of Google's proposed acquisition of Motorola, since many think Google may give preference to Motorola. If so, Tizen could become a good alternative to Android, Gold said.