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Tizen, a New Open Source Mobile OS Developed by Intel and Samsung

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Intel is dropping MeeGo and joining forces with Samsung to create Tizen, a new mobile OS based on HTML5 and emerging web technologies.

Dawn Foster, MeeGo Community Manager, has announced the creation of a new open source project called Tizen, intended to build a new operating system for smartphones, tablets, netbooks, handsets, smart TVs, and car infotainment systems. Tizen will be a Linux-based OS hosted by the Linux Mobile (LiMo) Foundation and governed by a Technical Steering Group led by Intel and Samsung.

It is not sure how much Tizen will borrow from MeeGo, but it seems that it will take a fresh look to mobile platform and development not very different than HP’s webOS. Imad Sousou, Director of Intel Open Source Technology Center, declared that Tizen will follow the path of HTML5 and emerging web technologies:

So it begs the question: why not just evolve MeeGo? We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5. Shifting to HTML5 doesn't just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment.

The APIs mentioned will “cover various platform capabilities, such as messaging, multimedia, camera, network, and social media,” according to Foster. The whole development stack will be open, the OS, the tools, the interface.

Tizen will also rely on the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), an alliance comprising many mobile phone network operators and manufacturers with the purpose to help developers to more easily create applications for multiple devices and networks. Some of the WAC members are ATT, T-Mobile, NTT Docomo, Orange, Vodafone, while Erricson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, and Samsung are observers.

The MeeGo community will be transitioned to Tizen over the following months, and the first release of the new OS and its SDK, including a native development kit (NDK), is planned for Q1 of 2012.

The Tizen announcement comes on the heels of Nokia’s N9 launch, the first and only MeeGo smartphone. MeeGo was the result of a joint effort led by Intel and Nokia who put together Moblin and Maemo, a project announced at the Mobile World Congress in February 2010. Much has happened in the meantime. Nokia steered towards Microsoft, embracing the Windows Phone platform, and Google bought Motorola becoming the OS maker and a device manufacturer competing in the Android market. Today we see Intel dropping MeeGo and joining forces with Samsung, currently an important Android manufacturer, to create a new OS that will attempt to attract the open source community. It is not clear if this will do better than Android because Samsung will be both in Tizen’s steering committee and a device maker, very much like Google is now with Android. One thing is sure: mobile is a very dynamic space and there are huge interests in this market.

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