Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini is not a happy bunny. The man who heads up the chip maker had been hoping that his company’s joint project with Nokia, MeeGo, would start bearing fruit in 2011, with phones using the OS able to go toe-to-toe with the best Apple, Google and Microsoft had to offer. Instead, he finds himself cheerleading an abandoned platform, complaining bitterly about Nokia’s new deal with Microsoft.
Otellini, speaking during a conference call last week said: "I wouldn't have made the decision [Stephen Elop] made, I would probably have gone to Android if I were him. MeeGo would have been the best strategy but he concluded he couldn't afford it."
These are the words of a man who’s smarting that MeeGo has been so comprehensively outdone. But he still clearly believes there’s room for the stillborn system, saying: “We will find another partner. The carriers still want a third ecosystem and the carriers want an open ecosystem, and that's the thing that drives our motivation.”
The carriers may want another ecosystem (although that itself remains debatable). But do punters? Android and iOS’s combined market share is vast and between them they dominate the smartphone arena, with a not-insubstantial cut still held by RIM and BlackBerry.
Throw in Nokia’s plans to push Windows Phone 7 across a wide array of price points and HP’s webOS strategy and it becomes increasingly difficult to see just where MeeGo will fit in. Android already fulfils the open source needs that consumers want, and while competition is healthy, who really believes that a company without Google’s breadth of offerings and deep understanding of the mobile market could stand up to Android?
It’ll be fascinating too, to see what partners Intel is hoping to entice. HTC is in deep with Google and Microsoft, Samsung and LG likewise. With Nokia seemingly holding firm on its plan to release just one, low-key MeeGo phone in 2011 and Sony Ericsson happy to play with Android, whither Meego in all this? It’s a gamble, when Android already offers benefits to OEMs and touts the kind of software that consumers love and are already familiar with.
Otellini is perhaps right when he says, “…if you harness the ability of all the engineers in the world and the developers in the world, open wins." If you look at recent smartphone sales, you could argue that with Android, open already has won. That battle is over, as Nokia has realised. Perhaps it’s time Intel saw the light too.