'Symbian and MeeGo are quite separate'

Nokia and Intel announced MeeGo at Mobile World Congress

With MeeGo set to launch on ARM-based and Intel Atom-based devices this month, we grabbed a few minutes with Peter Schneider from Nokia recently to talk about MeeGo, the first fruit from the Nokia-Intel joint venture announced last June.

MeeGo itself was announced at Mobile World Congress last month. It brought together the Moblin and Maemo operating systems from the two companies into a single open source OS.

At the time, a joint statement said the open software platform "will accelerate industry innovation and time-to-market for a wealth of new internet-based applications and services and exciting user experiences."

Schneider heads up the marketing effort at Nokia for MeeGo. The project is hosted by the Linux Foundation.

Where does this leave Symbian?

We asked Schneider, who has beenat Nokia since 2000, what the new OS meant for Symbian and future devices – will they still run Symbian?

"We see Symbian and MeeGo as being quite separate. Symbian is strong...and will continue to have success on smartphones. MeeGo covers a different market. MeeGo is a new operating system, while Symbian is well developed."

At the launch of MeeGo, Nokia's Vice President for Devices, Kai Oistamo, said that "the two operating systems would co-exist" and that MeeGo will run on "multiple processor architectures."

He then added that Symbian and MeeGo would share some "forward compatibility."

Nokia wants MeeGo to take full advantage of its open source status by getting as much interaction as possible. "We want MeeGo – like Maemo – to be really collaborative," says Schneider.

"Maemo was the result of a big community effort and we have thousands of [open source] developers working on lots of projects." Symbian has also recently moved to an open source model.

Atom and ARM-support

Schneider was coy about the types of devices being developed for MeeGo, but it's clear from various comments – not least those of Oistamo - that many types of devices will be able to support the OS.

MeeGo will be able to run on Intel Atom as well as ARM-based devices. So we could see it running on some budget netbooks as well as high-end mobiles like the N900.

Schneider also maintains "it doesn't compete" with smartphone operating systems such as Android or Windows Phone 7 Series. Instead, it's more likely to be compared to Chrome OS when that hits the streets later in the year.

Even though the project is fully collaborative, changes to source components of the software are made by a joint Technical Steering Group.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.