Report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones

Posted on 20 November 2010 by



Just a few days after the first ever MeeGo conference I have the best chance ever to take what I’ve seen, heard and learnt to try and predict when and what will happen with MeeGo in 2011. When will versions ship? On what hardware? When will the applications store ship and finally, when will end-products ship both via Intel and Nokia funding and, importantly, through independent vendors.

First let’s remember that MeeGo is an offering to developers, OEMs, manufacturers and other non-end-user customers. Like Android open-source, it will comprise a complete core, a vanilla user interface and a basic set of core applications. Driver support will be limited to common open-source drivers, codecs for audio and video will be limited to free versions and there will be no applications store. While ‘hacker’ types may welcome the new OS, end-users are unlikely to be too thrilled. Journalists that don’t get the whole picture are likely to react with negative reports. Once again, remember that MeeGo on end products will be different to what you see coming out of the MeeGo project.

Let’s also remember what MeeGo is about. It’s an open-source project run by the Linux Foundation and funded by Intel and Nokia for a range of products from mobile phones, in-vehicle entertainment, TV, netbooks, ‘smart’ books and tablets. Intel need MeeGo for their new low-power platforms (Moorestown and Medfield, the handheld platforms, just won’t work without MeeGo although Android is also in the works for these platforms) and Nokia have committed to bringing their next flagship product out with MeeGo. The stakes are very very high for both companies. MeeGo will happen, products on MeeGo will happen and applications on products on MeeGo will happen. But when?

It is possible to get a product out using MeeGo today. The WeTab proves it’s possible but there’s a list of things that need to happen before ‘milestone’ products appear. I also refer to these products as ‘disruptive’ because they will be good enough to compete in the same space as the best-of-breed in their category. There’s also another category of important products and that is those that are not funded by the MeeGo partners. Here’s what needs to happen before the products appear…

Hardware platforms

For netbooks, the Intel Pinetrail platform works and is likely to be the only choice for most of 2011 and until the next generation of netbook platform is introduced. At that point we should expect a lean towards always-on and the addition of hardware video decoding and encoding. The Intel netbook platform should start to look more like the Oaktrail platform proposed for tablets. If we look at the ARM platforms, the dual-core Cortex A9 series of variants is looking interesting for ‘smart’ netbooks and focusing purely on hardware, it’s possible to build a netbook-style device on ARM today. The Toshiba AC100 is one example.

  • Timescales for Intel netbook hardware: Now
  • Timescales for ARM netbook-style hardware: Now

In terms of tablets, there’s a wide range of choices. Intel are offering Oaktrail which can support Windows for a desktop-like experience and MeeGo or Android for the always-on consumer-style experience. Interestingly Intel also offer Moorestown on which only MeeGo and Android will run to provide a consumer handheld experience right down to almost mobile phone sizes. in the ARM world we have a huge range of choices. We’ve seen MeeGo running on Ti (who work closely with Nokia and are likely to be providing the platform for the Nokia MeeGo products in 2011) and on Freescale, ST Ericsson and other ARM-based platforms. These platforms are targeted at the 4-10” segment for highly mobile devices and could potentially be used to make an ARM-based smartbook, just the the Intel Moorestown platform could.

  • Timescales for Intel Tablet hardware Q1-Q3 2011
  • Timescales for ARM tablet hardware: Now

For the mobile phone space, Medfield is the Intel platform that might appear in late 2011 (more likely 2012) and for ARM, lower-power and phone-oriented platforms are available now.

  • Timescales for Intel Handheld hardware: Q2 2011 (Oversize smartphones) 1H 2012 (smartphone)
  • Timescales for ARM handheld hardware: Now

Touch

For the phone and tablet market, touch is critical. The experience needs to be fast, multi-touch and up there with the best-in-class. For that, MeeGo 1.1 isn’t enough. MeeGo 1.2 is being built with multi-touch in mind and this is planned for April 2011. Products built on the Beta versions will not be ready for market until at least two months later so unless Nokia is doing their own private work on multi-touch with MeeGo 1.1, high quality products are unlikely before that. With the next MeeGo conference planned for end of May 2011, it is the perfect time to launch a product that will be available in June or July. Whether Nokia chooses to launch their product at this time is difficult to tell. With CDMA support not planned until MeeGo 1.3 a launch in the U.S. would have to be focused around AT&T or T-Mobile but with stronger support in Europe, it would appear likely that a separate Nokia event would happen in Europe for the launch of their products.

  • Timescales for single touch products: Now
  • Timescales for multi-touch products: Starting June 2011

Battery Life

Intel products will need to be built on Oaktrail or Moorestown for the best possible battery life experience. We are moving to a world where ‘always-on’ will be the standard. ARM-platforms are already capable of offering class-leading battery life.

  • Intel Tablet battery life timescales (Oaktrail/Moorestown) 1H 2011
  • Intel Netbook battery life timescales: (Oaktrail) 1H 2011 (Cedar View) 2H 2011
  • Intel smartphone battery life timescales: (Medfield) 2012
  • ARM battery life timescales: Now

Security

Security subsystems need to be in place for carriers and that didn’t happen in MeeGo 1.1. I’m hearing that 1.2 is critical for carriers so it hits the same timescale as those devices relying on the multi-touch user experience.

  • Carrier security subsystems in place: April 2011. Products. 2H 2011
  • Other products (non carrier): Now

Applications stores

As mentioned, OVI and AppUp are critical. MeeGo will only ship with a basic set of applications and for the best-of-breed consumer devices and to create the developer excitement that is, in-turn, a critical part of the application store, they need to be in place with payment systems.  With OVI expected only on the Nokia devices (Question: What application store will be available for ARM-MeeGo devices that are not from Nokia?) we know that it will be a Q3/Q4 timescale. For AppUp on MeeGo we are seeing some marketing campaigns starting now. Launch is likely to be on the Netbook platform first in order to capitalise on the existing Windows-based AppUp store and to enable MeeGo netbook variants to go out of the door as soon as possible. Remember, netbooks using MeeGo will not need any support for carriers, phone stacks, touch and other elements that can only be delivered with V1.2. Considering that V1.1 is available now and that we’ve already seen proposal OS builds from Linpus, we can assume that existing AppUp partners Acer, Asus, Samsung and Dell will be bringing out MeeGo options likely to drive lower-cost netbooks aimed at entry-level markets initially. Based on that, we should see AppUp for MeeGo netbook UX available in Q1.  For tablet/handheld user interfaces, this might not happen until V1.2 (It’s on that roadmap)

  • Application store timescale for Nokia (OVI/ARM): Delivered with first Nokia handheld product after June 2011
  • Application store timescale for non-Nokia/ARM: Unknown. Currently no support
  • Applications store timescale for Intel / Netbook: Q1 2011
  • Applications store timescale for Intel handheld/tablet: 2H 2011 (After MeeGo v1.2)

Applications

Applications are starting to work their way through already. In the MeeGo release itself, media player, email client, calendar, sync, browser and other applications are already being worked on and there are rumors that KOffice will also be offered but as any smartphone user knows, discovery, sharing, enhancement and customisation through 3rd party applications is critical now. There is already a way for developers to make apps for MeeGo on Intel and ARM ‘target’ devices(SDK available here) but there is no support for the Application store yet. Intel have already set up an AppUp/MeeGo portal though.

Preparing applications for OVI is another story. Ovi is accepting Qt applications which will work on some existing platforms and the Nokia MeeGo products when they are launched.

Monetisation (OVI, AppUp) will stimulate the developer ecosystem and this will happen in the timescales shown above.

Finally – When Will We See A Competitive Product?

What we see coming out of the MeeGo project is a demonstrator. It’s a complete core with a functional user interface. It’s not what we’re likely to see on end products. In order to make a competitive product; One that has potential to seriously distrupt sales of other devices in the sector requires all of the above milestones to be met. Hardware, Application store, touch, battery life and something we haven’t spoken about yet. The customisation, optimisation and branding process takes months and for a class leading product, could easily take 6 months. Adding in codecs, optimising and branding the content stores, optismising the base applications, checking security, spicing up the interface, writing the drivers and testing is a 6 month to 1 year project. Lets assume that with 1.1, the teams were able to start the process of building a product around MeeGo. In April they will get the features needed to finalise the product and then, along with the integration of an application store, you’ve got another 2-4 months of work ahead. The first competitive products, driven by investment from the core partners, will only hit the market in June 2011 at the earliest. For products from other vendors, expect that timescale to go into Q3 2011 because they will definitely hold back to see what Nokia do, what Apple do, how Android develops, how Chrome OS develops, how the MeeGo application stores grow and even, how Android on Intel develops. The first MeeGo products, in all categories, need to be very special to secure trust from external companies. (Note: It’s likely that Intel and Nokia will invest huge amounts in external companies efforts to get MeeGo-based products to the market.)

Note on In-Vehicle0Entertainment and TV

I haven’t covered these two categories in this article as we’re focusing purely on the mobile/handheld/netbook computing market here.

Summary

We could see MeeGo netbooks with AppUp as early as January with ‘features’ such as quick-boot, lower cost, a simple-to-use operating system with a social-networking slant. We’re unlikely to see too much excitement around these early devices though because platforms and applications need to develop to create products with any major selling points. ARM do have an opportunity to get MeeGo on a netbook-style device in order to create an interesting long-battery-life product.

Tablets could appear in the early part of 2011 as 3rd-parties are already working on UI solutions based on MeeGo 1.1 but for interesting multi-touch products, with an application store, this won’t happen until around June 2011.

The first MeeGo smartphone requires MeeGo V1.2 and won’t happen, either on Intel or ARM until around June 2011. That phone is likely to be a Nokia product and its success will be critical to MeeGo.

Everything up until this Nokia/MeeGo phone can be called Phase-1 – led by Intel/Nokia investment. If these products show class-leading features and the developers start to create applications then we’ll start to see Phase 2 products created through independent investment that are true indicators of MeeGo momentum. That story starts in Q3 2011.

Footnote: All timescales are estimates based on current knowledge.

The next MeeGo conference has been announced for San Francisco on May 23rd-25th 2011.

Want a chance to learn more about AppUp? I’m at the Apps World expo in London on the 1st Dec and AppLab in Berlin on the 3rd Dec.

Categorized | Report

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16 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    RT @umpcportal report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones http://bit.ly/cTfdch #meegoconf

  2. Sergejs says:

    RT @chippy: RT @umpcportal report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones http://bit.ly/cTfdch #meegoconf

  3. turn_self_off says:

    What worries me is that while ARM can provide right now what Intel is just promising in the next year, the meego variants available right now are precompiled for X86 rather then ARM.

    So right now, the outwards apperance of meego is one controlled by Intel.

    chippy Reply:

    MeeGo is precompiled for N900, Aaava and netbooks. There’s actually a huge amount of support for the N900 as a testing platform for ARM builds.

  4. Alltop Mobile says:

    Report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones http://bit.ly/9QlYC8

  5. Allan Nielsen says:

    Multitouch is already on the WeTab. http://wetab.mobi/en

    chippy Reply:

    There are a few apps that they’ve put multitouch support but I would not call the WeTab a multitouch product.

  6. Andrew Flegg says:

    Remember that Nokia’s first “MeeGo” device will be running Harmattan; the technologies in there have gone into MeeGo 1.1 (MTF, for one), but I expect this to continue with MeeGo 1.2 (e.g. the security framework you mention). This means that Nokia aren’t dependent on MeeGo 1.2 shipping to release a device.

    chippy Reply:

    Hi Andrew. You might be right but my prediction is, based on what i’ve heard, that it will be a product that ships after 1.2. It could actually be a 1.1+ version with missing parts being added seperately or back-ported from beta 1.2 releases.

    itwillbe Reply:

    Andrew is correct, Nokia don’t need to rely on MeeGo builds for there product b/c harmattan was already in the works years before.
    Lot of harmattan as been contributed to MeeGo 1.1 and will go towards MeeGo 1.2.
    Nokia already have a functioning OS based on mostly same technology what will go into MeeGo.
    it is known as MeeGo 1.0 N inside Nokia basicly its an hybrid Maemo 6/MeeGo product

    Chippy Reply:

    Appreciate your input itwillbe. Thx.
    I’m also thinking that there’s a hybrid version inside Nokia.
    As far as timescales go though, when do you think it will ship?
    June timeframe is probably correct right?

    itwillbe Reply:

    if i was a gambling man i would bet on Q1 next year, maybe we will hear something at MWC, Nokia will have a big presence this year at MWC and will exhibit unlike last year where they just did mini event of there own close by.
    Elop is also one of the Main keynote Speakers there too.

    there is also a MeeGolandia event in Finland by Nokia in April, but its very rare to see flagship product announcements by Nokia on home soil and from the description of the kind of event it will be it seems like there will already be products in hand.

  7. Steffen Schildge says:

    RT @umpcportal Report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones http://www.umpcportal.com/?p=22754

  8. Alessandro Tucci says:

    RT @umpcportal: Report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones http://www.umpcportal.com/?p=22754

  9. aftermath says:

    This is a very great article. It’s very informative, and I appreciate your on-going coverage. As somebody who likes technology and learning rather than just products and shopping, this is a great opportunity to really learn about the mobile and embedded spaces in a new way.

    You compared MeeGo to Android a couple of times. While both are “based on Linux”, MeeGo is a Linux distribution whereas Android IS NOT. This distinction is HUGE. The consequences of this as a property of Android are very significant (it’s one of many reasons that people like me see Android as garbage to be avoided at all costs). The consequences of this as a property of MeeGo are also very significant (it’s one of many reasons that people like me think that MeeGo represents the best path forward for consumers and OEMs/ODMs in therms of the mobile, embedded, and connected sectors). Linux is great, but just because my coffee maker runs a non-free operating “based on Linux” doesn’t mean that I’m going to run it on all of my devices and predicate my technology work flow on it. MeeGo is poised to do for highly mobile and connected devices what Ubuntu did for the desktop.

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t take the time to identify, highlight, explain, and explore this key difference between MeeGo and Android. It’s still early, so perhaps we can read a relevant comparison and contrast from you at some point in the near future. An ignorant person can read this article and come away with the impression that MeeGo and Android are “comparable”, which to them means “substitutable”. Of course, they are comparable in the sense that they can be compared (like any two things can), but they are also “contrastable” in meaningful and significant ways. One should NOT walk away from a discussion of Android and MeeGo thinking that one is a substitute for the other (I mean, the MeeGo project handles different form factors with different user interface profiles. Currently, Google handles the situation with multiple entirely different operating systems). Unfortunately, I think that your article provides this kind of wiggle room.

    Chippy Reply:

    This wasn’t an article to define differences between Android and MeeGo.
    Many people are aware of the middleware that was ripped out in Android and i’ve written about it before. (It would be nice to have an X-layer in Android for example to support multiple screens!)

    The two OS’ are targeting similar space and will, therefore, be comparable though.

    This is an article about MeeGo timelines.

    Chippy.

    Gadgety Reply:

    @Chippy. Thanks for the article. Having followed the tech development from Maemo to MeeGo it’s a huge setback to Nokia unless they release a Harmattan/MeeGo hybrid product at the latest by Q1 2011. They have no viable, supported, and updated top-of-the-line offering to compete with iPhone, and the latest t-o-t-l Android products. The N900 had turned into a developers platform.

    @aftermath. Interesting input. The only suggestion I’d like to make is that you mention the top 5-7 differences to consumers between Android and MeeGo, if you have the info.

  10. zviera says:

    Thank you Chippy for this info. I am not going to wait for nokia N9 then. Android smartphone and BB Playbook will make my business work perfectly.

  11. Crow says:

    AMD has taken up with Meego also. ( see link ) Do you have any news about when or if Meego will work with an AMD chip ?

    Chippy Reply:

    No but it should be fairy easy to watch the upstream submissions to see if support for AMD is there. Specifically the new fusion chips.

  12. Vasiliy Rybak says:

    о планах по развертыванию MeeGo http://bit.ly/9J8jKY

  13. Nickolay Turubar says:

    RT @Silentloud: о планах по развертыванию MeeGo http://bit.ly/9J8jKY

  14. mike laptev says:

    не прикроют ли они проект к тому же маю 2011? >> @turubar rt @Silentloud о планах по развертыванию MeeGo http://bit.ly/9J8jKY

  15. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    @oliv2r My predictions on the Meego timeline: http://bit.ly/goZVLK

  16. Oliver says:

    RT @chippy: @oliv2r My predictions on the Meego timeline: http://bit.ly/goZVLK