Introducing the Tizen Projectby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 28, 2011 1:00 AM EST
When Intel first announced its intentions to enter the smartphone space it needed an OS that demanded the additional silicon Intel was willing to invest in this market. With PCs Intel had Microsoft Windows, an OS that could seemingly always use more processing power. Newer versions of Windows helped Intel sell newer versions of its processors. There was no analog to that in the smartphone market when Intel first started making noise. It was software and styling, not SoCs that differentiated most Android smartphones early on. Obviously times are changing (hence Intel's recent public commitment to Google) but back then Intel needed a mobile OS that would demand greater performance from its SoCs. Intel settled on Moblin: a version of Linux originally intended to be deployed on mobile internet devices and netbooks.
Intel eventually partnered up with Nokia. With the partnership came a rebrand: Moblin got folded into MeeGo and was given support for smartphones and ARM architectures as well. Unfortunately, market pressure eventually caused Nokia to give up on MeeGo and move to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Nokia could have been successful with MeeGo but it's a tough job building up marketshare from scratch with a brand new, unproven OS. Nokia decided to do what it felt was best for the company, although the long term impact isn't incredibly clear.
Intel's close relationship with Nokia pushed away many of its other hardware partners. Nokia's abandonment of MeeGo left Intel alone. With Nokia gone and no other hardware vendors immediately eager to work with Intel, things had to change.
Intel embraced Android and wants to be a competitor in that space. Hardware vendors are back at the table and Intel is expected to finally have a design win in early 2012. I suspect Intel's focus will mostly be in smartphones and it will look to Windows 8 to be the tablet platform of choice.
Where does this leave MeeGo? Intel is focused almost entirely on Android for smartphones and with Nokia gone there really isn't a MeeGo anymore. As a result, the MeeGo Project is pretty much done with and the Linux Foundation has announced its successor: Tizen.
Tizen will pick up where MeeGo left off but with an increased emphasis on HTML5 development. Details are scarce but Tizen APIs are apparently much less rigid and designed explicitly with HTML5 in mind. There will be support for native code as well for applications that require it, but for most everyone else the path to success will be HTML5.
The Tizen project is based on Linux and will reside within the Linux Foundation. The OS is completely open source. Development is led by a technical steering team comprised of engineers from Intel and Samsung.
Why would Intel and Samsung support the Tizen project? To facilitate competition and offer a truly open alternative to Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The support of these two companies doesn't guarantee Tizen will be a success (nor is either likely counting on it), but markets tend to evolve differently when there are open competitors in the mix.