Tuesday, December 20, 2011


MeeGo is a project born out of the coming together of two separate projects Moblin and Maemo, from the world’s largest chip manufacturer, Intel and the world’s largest handset manufacturer, Nokia, respectively. This partnership was announced in February 2010. 

MeeGo is a Linux- based platform intended to be used with a plethora of devices such as Netbooks, light desktops, Phones, Tablets and In-vehicle entertainment systems. The ambitious project aimed to bring together the efforts from the Maemo and Moblin communities in an effort to give rise to a next-generation open source Linux-platform that could run on a wide variety of devices efficiently. The MeeGo project is hosted by the Linux Foundation and is completely open source. One of the main touted advantages of the system was the ability for App developers to develop apps which could be run on multiple devices and platforms without requiring rewritten code. 

Some of the project’s main features are
 Basic core code over which Specific UX packages can be installed. This gives companies the freedom to design and install their own UX packages.
 Community involvement
 Support for multiple hardware architectures
 Freedom for innovation
 Rich cross-platform development tools

The main different UXs developed with MeeGo are:

Netbook – The increasingly popular little cousin of the laptop PC. These devices come in a compact form factor, with smaller screens and smaller processors with lower power consumption. Manufacturers such as Asus, with their famed EeePC line, Fujitsu and Samsung have come out with netbooks running MeeGo.

Handset - For use in mobile phones, small tablets and other such devices. The Nokia N9, running MeeGo, unveiled in June 2011 has created a lot of anticipation in the market. It promises a unique user experience.

In-vehicle Infotainment – For use in vehicle entertainment systems. The GENIVI Alliance has adopted MeeGo for their In-Vehicle entertainment systems.

The first UX of MeeGo to be released was the netbook UX, in May 2010. This release was called Meego1.0. A six month release timeline was kept and the next release of the core came out in October 2010 in the form of MeeGo1.1. The MeeGo Handset and In-vehicle Infotainment(IVI) versions were released between this period.

Recent developments
 Nokia’s adoption of Windows for their new smartphones; MeeGo losing one of its biggest supporters.
 Intel’s announcement that development on MeeGo will be halted due to lack of manufacturer interest.
 Intel’s move to a new mobile platform called Tizen, led by Intel, Samsung, The Linux Foundation, The LIMO foundation.
 OpenMobile’s Application Compatibility Layer – This enables the use of existing android applications on MeeGo devices, thus increasing the application base for MeeGo by thousands.

Some of these developments have left the future of the MeeGo project uncertain but it still enjoys much community support , which may be reason enough for its continued development.

Strengths and Key values 
One of the key values that MeeGo offers is the light nature of the OS – Its ability to run efficiently on low spec hardware and its ability to run effectively from a live USB device, without installation. In a market already filled with many light distributions of Linux, MeeGo stands out with its fresh UI and simple interface. The fact that it was developed specifically for lighter hardware helps improve performance on netbooks and other machines running hardware based on the Intel Atom, AMD fusion and such processors. 

Another much talked about feature, which is important on netbooks, is the short boot-up period as compared to larger OSes such as Windows – the lesser time the system takes to be up and running, the better. The possibility to dual boot alongside Windows or other OSes also puts forth the option of using MeeGo as a quick-boot alternative for functions like Internet access, Media playing, Word processing, etc. for which the larger OS need not be booted up. 

One of the main challenges for MeeGo would be staying true to these key values while also adding newer feature sets or functionality. Possibly, the biggest challenge is the lack of awareness amongst layman users of the existence or usage possibilities of such an OS. This is the group that may be most benefitted from the adoption of MeeGo as a free and simple solution in lieu of expensive proprietary software. 

Targetable User Groups
-Students & first time computer adopters – For these users the adoption of MeeGo and appropriate hardware would prove to be a very cost effective solution. It takes care of all the common functionality such as Media playing, Word processing, Email, Social networking, Internet browsing and Office suite (Open Office).

-Small enterprises – This sector provides for an excellent opportunity for small or medium scale enterprises to make their operations computer enabled at nominal costs, on inexpensive hardware and free software.

Further development 
How can MeeGo serve the needs of its target users more efficiently?

While MeeGo already addresses most of the needs of its target users, what is required is to expand the active user base so that more of them can benefit from its merits. Presently a crucial move for the MeeGo project would be to actively reach out to its targeted user base. This may be very relevant in a country like India where a large part of customers of computer equipment end up buying hardware and software beyond what they actually require, and pay for  unnecessary functionality or software due to sheer lack of awareness.

While a large part of the student community can easily be easily accessed via online media such as social networks, the other target group of layman users and small enterprises are less accessible. This group could be permeated by generating more awareness amongst local dealers who are the main suppliers of hardware and software for them. More often than not, they are provided with pirated copies of proprietary software. This group needs to be made aware of the viable free alternative called MeeGo.

An effective way to reach out to this group may be in the form of pre-loaded software on netbooks and their desktop version – nettops. This may be done via partnerships with manufacturers or suppliers. Nettop computers with MeeGo and OpenOffice pre-installed can be marketed specifically for homes and small scale enterprises as a viable and cost effective solution to make them digitally enabled.

Another powerful targetable user base would be schools, where the adoption of MeeGo will provide for an effective solution for computer enabled education. This could be especially relevant for small schools which may otherwise not have the resources for expensive computer solutions. One of the ways to reach out to this community is through NGOs which are active in the education sector and through movements such as Teach for India which aim to bring quality education to rural India.

To conclude, MeeGo puts forward a very simple yet powerful solution for a computing experience and can play a vital role in digitally enabling the masses and ushering the IT revolution to otherwise latent groups, especially in a developing country like India.

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