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Apple in Its Castle, Google in Space: Where’s MeeGo?

Of the technology trends showing remarkable resistence to change, naming multibillion-dollar institutions with baby-talk words is among the most curious. Yahoo! is more fun to say than is International Business Machines.

We've already passed through a diaper reference (Napster), dozens of monsters (the actual Monster.com and a host of –zillas), and {complink 2294|Google}, which may be a concept from math (misspelled) but sounds like baby drool. We are — and by we I speak, with all due modesty, for all humanity — only somewhat past this. The various jokes about how to conjugate “tweet” (subjunctive: twelt) suggest we only put up with the word “Twitter” because the service is really useful. By comparison, {complink 10867|Facebook} appears to be a masterpiece of intentional blandness.

With that in mind, it's notable how deeply sober minds at soberly named {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} and, surprisingly, a post Microsoft-deal Nokia continue to place such faith in little MeeGo, the open-source tablet system that could. Can it?

Within two weeks of a Mobile World Congress full of excitement over various Android-driven tablets, {complink 379|Apple Inc.} just has to bring Steve Jobs onstage for 45 minutes, and it’s as if Barcelona never happened. Intel’s counter-argument in part rides on MeeGo, a wide open platform that is pretty much the anti-Apple.

Two weeks after Barcelona, the field's set: There's Apple in its castle, Google in its spaceship — piloted by that cute little Android — and MeeGo out in the field, grimly plowing away.

Apple's strategy for winning the tablet war has been a dual effort in which it: 1) corners the market on key parts and drives up supply prices on the competition; and 2) continues the usual Apple scheme of avoiding dissent, throwing its own parties at which it talks about how much everyone else's ideas suck. If we accept for a moment that this will continue working as well as it has since 2005 or so — Apple claims to have 40 million tablets as a goal for 2011, which suggests it's working pretty well — then Google's Android may indeed be the weaker player here.

So, what of MeeGo's anonymous, angry serfs?

Intel appears to be betting on igniting a revolution. If you arm the serfs, with really tiny, fast, radically power-saving chipsets in this case, they'll eventually storm the castle. It worked with servers, goes the argument.

It's a big bet, saddled with an indecisive partner in Nokia, two massive rivals, and an inane name (last tried by a lame sitcom). But things that sound foolish said out loud have tended, of late, to surprise.

14 comments on “Apple in Its Castle, Google in Space: Where’s MeeGo?

  1. SunitaT
    March 7, 2011

    Marc,

      Apple in its castle, Google in its spaceship, and MeeGo out in the field, where do you place the Windows ?

    No doubt MeeGo is still out in the field, but couple of points can help Intels cause.

    1) iPad 2 reviews are not so good. Not much of performance improvement in iPad 2 compared to iPad1.

    2) Intels Medfield will have the fastest processor on the market, , the same standby time as chips from competitors and the longest active power use time of any chip. This will definitely excite the market.

    3) Intel is accelerating LTE (Long Term Evolution) communication chip development.

    Lets see if Intel succeedes  in igniting a revolution.

     

  2. AnalyzeThis
    March 7, 2011

    I've never really given it much thought, but you're right about how tech companies have an unusual habit of seemingly pulling ideas for their company name out of brainstorming sessions at day-care centers.

    Anyhow, obviously the tablet market is very crowded right now, not just from a hardware standpoint, but an OS standpoint as well. You mention the biggest players (Apple and Android) along with MeeGo, but once you start throwing in WebOS and RIM and Microsoft… yikes.

    There's no way all of these platforms will survive. Developers aren't going to port apps to 6 or 7 different platforms.

    So no, MeeGo's chances don't look good. The best case scenario? They somehow manage to gain traction and find some success in the lower-end of the market. I suppose it's possible.

  3. Eldredge
    March 7, 2011

    Perhaps the name indicates that they are trying to target the youngest possible consumers in their ad campaigns?

    As far as gaining a foothold is concerned, it certainly seems like an uphill battle for Intel to win – but stranger things have happened.

  4. AnalyzeThis
    March 7, 2011

    @Eldredge, well, if PLAYSKOOL ever released a tablet for toddlers, I suppose it would make a lot of sense for it to be MeeGo-based, huh?

    Anyhow, all kidding aside, I really don't think I'll ever be purchasing any apps from the “MeeGo Garage” (that's actually what it is called) in the near future. Or ever.

  5. Eldredge
    March 7, 2011

    Here's another thought…..perhaps they could partner with Yugo (are they still around?) and market a Yugo MeeGo!

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    March 8, 2011

    In todays situation where Apple still hold its fort and Android is finding new spaces to fill, the Meego should be appropriately renamed as MeeToo as it struggles to get its own feet on the ground.

  7. Ariella
    March 8, 2011

    Meego should be appropriately renamed as MeeToo” well put!

  8. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 8, 2011

    Great analysis–and weaving the trade names in is brilliant. Fun to read. As for tablets, I have no opinion whatsoever. I have not test driven (drove?) enough of them.

  9. t.alex
    March 9, 2011

    Anybody knows where the name MeeGo comes from?

  10. Ariella
    March 9, 2011

    I found this rather doubtful sounding explanation: http://forum.meego.com/showthread.php?t=1282 It also alludes to a slang term, which is not exactly complimentary: 

    MEGO

    • Reaction to something said that is boring or incomprehensible. Acronym for “my eyes glazed over.”

      The lecture was boring that I MEGO'ed after five minutes.

  11. Mr. Roques
    March 10, 2011

    Where is Apple's cornering the market — which components do they basically control? Glass?

    Regarding Meego, how serious is it? Does it have a chance to fight with the 'big boys'? It's backed by Intel and Nokia but Apple and Google are still the big boys, in this market at least.

  12. t.alex
    March 11, 2011

    Ariella, this is rather interesting. What a name!

  13. DataCrunch
    March 26, 2011

    Hi t.alex – MeeGo has no specific meaning and from what I have read about the name on forums (not the technology) is that people have expressed disappointment in the name for such a promising technology.

    MeegGo was formed from two platforms, Maemo from Nokia and Moblin from Intel, to create a “super software platform” specifically for mobile devices and in-vehicle infotainment systems.

     

  14. t.alex
    March 31, 2011

    Dave, thanks for the explanation. Perhaps the platform would be become more widespread if it is open enough (i.e. easy access to hardware, tools, source code for development). We can see how Android did this, and obviously there are so many opensource contributions.

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