MeeGo, the Intel/Nokia cloud-oriented mobile OS, was widely dismissed when Nokia adopted WP7. But Intel has not given up on the platform and has announced a new Chinese development venture focused on making it an alternative to Android.
Nokia is still treating MeeGo as something of a fallback system, continuing some open source projects with an eye to future device form factors, and promising a product running the OS this summer.
But Intel appears keen to take MeeGo forward in a far more positive way, with or without Nokia. This week, it has reworked the user interface, which it showed off together with its latest Atom processor and first real hope in tablets, Oak Trail. And it has also announced the MeeGo development center with partner Tencent.
Ironically enough, Intel said its Chinese MeeGo efforts are designed to position its Linux-based OS as an "open alternative" to Android. The Google OS has come under fire recently for going back on its open source roots, with key enhancements firmly under the search giant's control and sometimes, as with the new Honeycomb tablet release, confined just to a select group of partners.
MeeGo does have full Linux credentials, being hosted by the Linux Foundation (Android has been relegated to being a Linux 'fork'). But the choice of China to present it as a friendlier OS than Google is more likely to reflect Google's difficulties in that country, where its battles with the government over censorship have led to its restricting some activities.
This has led some Chinese operators and vendors either modifying Android to minimize Google's presence, or looking for other options which they could control - with MeeGo perhaps looking to step into that breach.