Samsung and Intel are among the corporate sponsors who will support the new OS

With rumors that Intel Corp. (INTC) was about to follow Finnish phonemaker Nokia Oyj.'s (HEL:NOK1V) lead and drop support for the struggling Meego project, quite the reverse has happened.  Overnight two giants of the Linux movement -- the LiMo ("Linux Mobile") Foundation and the Linux Foundation have thrown their support behind [press release] Meego platform, which they've retitled as "Tizen".

Meego was announced in February 2010 as a mobile Linux alternative to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) rising Linux kernel-based OS, Android, which would go on to dominate the market.  Meego's main sponsors were Nokia and Intel.  The project merged Nokia's Maemo mobile Linux distribution (mostly open source) with Intel's Moblin distribution (open source).  Intel's rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) began participating in the project in November 2010.

This year, which was hoped to be a landmark year for the project, it instead has struggled, with no commercial products released.  The primary source of these struggles has been waning support from Nokia.  In February Nokia announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to put Windows Phone 7 on all its future smart phones, leaving behind Meego and its proprietary Symbian operating system.  Without a major handset partner the Meego project looked ready to fold.

The new adoptions by LiMo brings a whole slew of top handset makers onboard.  It also makes for strange bedfellows as Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google, is a member of the project.  While not a founding member (it's an associate member) Motorola has released a number of LiMo handsets, including the MotoRazr V8.  Technically this means that Google is sponsoring one of its own competitors.  But given that Meego/Tizen (or LiMo, for that matter) has yet to see significant adoption, it may be comfortable with that arrangement.

Another key sponsor brought onboard with the addition of LiMo is Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930).  Samsung was rumored to be shopping around for an alternative to Android.  While Google's OS has been lucrative in sales, Samsung has expressed the desire to have alternatives on hand, perhaps for budget models.

Fig.1 : Motorola (an associate member not pictured... see the PDF FAQ on LiMo) and Samsung are two top members of the LiMo coalition.

The support of the Linux Foundation is also a good sign for the project.  The Linux Foundation funds creator Linus Torvalds and other top Linux developers to work full time on improving the kernel.  It also works as a distribution-neutral force to promote the spread of Linux on the market.

Fig. 2: The Linux Foundation funds Linux "Benevolent Dictator For Life" Linus Torvalds to continue his kernel work, which underpines the Red Hat Linux family, Android, Ubuntu, and a whole host of other distributions. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

And of course it has the support of many of the industry's top players:
Fig. 3: Linux Foundation members.

Mr. Torvalds finally got bit by the mobile Linux bug last year, when he picked up a Nexus One, Google poor-selling flagship model for Android 2.1.  Now many Linux fans are likely hoping that he and his fellow core developers will give Meego a much needed injection of life.

Today Google and second place Apple, Inc. (AAPL) own almost 85 percent of mobile phone sales in the U.S.  Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 each own a small chunk of the remaining market share.  While the phone market has seemingly approached a Google-Apple duopoly, there's plenty of emerging talent.  The Mozilla Foundation  -- a LiMo member itself --  is working on a forked version of Android, as is, Inc. (AMZN).  Between these operations and Meego there should be enough fresh blood to keep the market interesting despite the seeming GOOG-APPL hegemony.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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