Intel and Nokia Dream of Mobile Mastery

The world of personal computers is pretty easy to understand: It's Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows versus Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) underdog Mac with a modest side serving of Linux systems. The end (for now).

Mobile operating systems, however, is a much tougher space to pin down. You have Mr. Softy and Apple joining the fray with Windows Mobile and the iPhone OS, of course, but in terms of smartphone units, those two are bit players in this drama, not clashing titans. According to research firm Canalys, Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) is the worldwide smartphone leader with a 47.2% global market share for its Symbian OS. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) ranks second with its BlackBerry platform, followed by the iPhone and Windows. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is the rapidly growing upstart in fifth place, and then there's a gaggle of mostly Linux-based platforms that make up a minuscule 3.4% of the market -- combined.

Beyond smartphones, we’ve seen Android being aggressively adopted by new tablet computers, and Apple has built its new iPad on the same software as the iPhone. Mobile platforms are expanding across a range of devices.

The Linux portion of the mobile market is consolidating, though. Nokia and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) just announced that their separate Linux-based mobile platforms are shacking up under the catchy name MeeGo. Manufacturers might be more interested in a single Linux platform with strong support than in picking one of a handful of contenders out of the hat.

This combination of software projects is the first tangible result of last year's Intel-Nokia development partnership. MeeGo goes far beyond smartphones and is intended for "pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, mediaphones, connected TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems." In short, if it ain't a regular old PC, you should be able to install MeeGo on it.

The other Meego -- a short-lived sitcom that featured guest spots from Jaleel White, better known as Steve Urkel -- lasted just a few episodes before being canceled. The name could be prophetic if the new MeeGo never soars like its creators intended. The joint press release does state that "MeeGo-based devices from Nokia and other manufacturers are expected to be launched later this year," and Intel CEO Paul Otellini dreams of "gaining cross- industry support."

We'll see about that. For now, the momentum seems to belong to Google's Android and the iPhone, and I don't see Intel and Nokia deflecting that trajectory very much. But thanks for playing, guys.

Does MeeGo matter to you as a consumer or an investor? Discuss in the comment box below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He doesn't own a cell phone because the next amazing thing always hovers just beyond the horizon, dangit. Intel, Microsoft, and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a buy calls position on Intel and a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (5)

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  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 5:01 PM, Tpimp wrote:

    @InfoThatHelp

    Where is your evidence? Where is your proof?

    Why Rim and their OS won't die.

    1. Partnership deals. Verizon and RIM have a very strong relationship. When RIM releases a new phone. Its usually on verizon and they usual sell like crazy.

    2. Developers? There are plenty. And even if there aren't many, the RIM OS isn't as focused on "Apps" as the others. Most of the "good" apps are provided in house (RIM makes them). For this reason they don't need to worry.

    3. Have you heard of American Business?? Now that windows mobile 6.5.x will be slowly pushed out (over the next 18 months) a huge gap to fill for American Business users. No they won't move to the iPhone. Android? They might, but because Android lacks a strong application do word processing/spreadsheets etc... They probably won't. Meego and Symbian aren't viable to fill this gap either (at least for now).

    4.Market share, market share, market share. Just like the iPhone is known by name, (ask almost anyone older than 10 and they know what an iPhone is) so is the Blackberry, And even more so in the business world.

    Now I'm not saying that RIM has no fears and doesn't need to upgrade their OS at all, but anyone who know anything about their OS, knows its on version 5.X, and still receiving attention from RIM. Who is to say next year we won't see a whole new OS (or a big upgrade). Microsoft and Palm did it, so why can't RIM.

    Just to set some things straight. I'm not a blackberry FanBoy. In fact I would never own a blackberry. I'm a true Window Mobile 6 buff. I like to stay open minded when it comes to technology because there are way to many smart people out there, for them all to work for any one company.

    My list for future OSes (listed by market share) Nokia( symbian) and Rim still on top; It might be years before they are below 1st and 2nd place. 3rd and below is where we might see some changes. I personally don't feel windows phone 7 will be as successful as people think. They have alienated a lot of native developers. Also, Windows Phone 7 is such a divergence from Windows mobile 6. Many users won't be making the jump (myself included). For the consumers, and business users that saw the potential in windows mobile 6, now see that the same potential is missing from windows phone 7. Business IT departments will no longer be able to create company specific applications and then distribute them to their employees free of charge. This loss of freedom will possibly hurt Microsoft (and I really hope it does). I personally am moving to MeeGo as a developer. So despite the fight for second and first, it will be Android, Windows phone 7, MeeGo, and WebOs fighting it out for 3rd and lower. Good luck linux based systems, give Microsoft a run for their money!

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 5:18 PM, makelvin wrote:

    Are you kidding?? MeeGo will be a NoGo from the GetGo.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 5:20 PM, makelvin wrote:

    Are you kidding?? MeeGo will be a NoGo from the GetGo.

    Neither Intel nor Nokia is good at providing a good easy to use OS for end user. How exactly will their partnership really help each other to convince the consumer that they have a better OS?

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 7:29 PM, greaterajax wrote:

    I believe RIM has become something of a fad for businessmen, which is allowing it to maintain market share. But other companies have better gadgets, technologically speaking, and at the end of the day, RIMs asset is essentially an IP architecture that anyone could duplicate. One day in the not too distant future, I imagine, an Alpha businessman will order his companies' Blackberries replaced with something better, and the rest will fall into line behind him. Thus will begin RIMs tumble.

    I'm waiting a bit longer to short it though.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 11:53 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @greaterajax:

    RIM's a "fad" with business buyers because it's physical keyboard is better than any touchscreen, their email and messaging service is designed for corporate deployments, and because they listen to corporate IT managers who want a phone that can't be used for downloading pron or offloading company data.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2010, at 11:12 AM, gt1135 wrote:

    @baldheadeddork

    Many smartphones have keyboards. Ever heard of the Droid...as in Android? Personally, I use an HTC Ozone right now, which runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and has a physical keyboard. What makes you think somebody with a Blackberry can't download pron or offload company data? It can surf the web. It can store data. It can do those things just like the other phones.

    In general, I really wish people would not give opinions if they know nothing about the subject.

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