updated 08:15 am EDT, Wed September 28, 2011
Tizen rises from ashes of MeeGo
Intel and Samsung partly confirmed rumors by unveiling Tizen. The effective successor to MeeGo still uses Linux as an open-source foundation for a mobile OS but is focused on a much broader coalition of LiMo supporters that includes Japanese phone makers NEC Casio and Panasonic Mobile, OS developer Access, and carriers NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telefonica (O2), and Vodafone. The group will focus more on HTML5- and Wholesale Applications Community-based apps that can run on MeeGo and can share much of their code for other platforms and devices.
The platform, hosted by the Linux Foundation, will scale up from smartphones, netbooks, and tablets through to in-car media systems and Internet-aware TVs. Intel's AppUp will serve both as the store for downloading apps across platforms as well as a developer program to muster support.
Intel cast Tizen as a better alternative to Android, having a "truly open project & governance structure," the company's Bob Duffy said in a dig at Google's platform. Google has often tried to portray Android as open but regularly withholds code, bars developers from modifying certain parts of the OS, and rarely if ever takes code contributions from anyone but itself.
The project for Intel is partly an admission that MeeGo has largely floundered. While it has never had significant traction outside of the just-shipped N9, Nokia's decision to relegate MeeGo to an experiment in favor of Windows Phone took out MeeGo's largest customer. Only a handful of other devices, such as the ASUS Eee PC X101, use the OS.
Samsung's motivation is less clear but may see it trying to find an alternative to Android. It already has a self-developed OS in Bada and is rumored to be open-sourcing the code in the near future, but lackluster sales that haven't hit 10 million units in one year have left it well behind Samsung's Android lineup. Tizen's Linux roots could still see it face legal threats from Microsoft, but it may avoid some of the patent issues brought up by Apple and Microsoft while also letting Samsung run an OS that has the outside support Bada may never get.
The naming choice may have represented an inauspicious start. Tizen for the Lebanese means "two asses," according to locals, and could be seen as an insult to both Intel and Samsung.