Will Android be Moblin 2.0/3.0?

Intel created and is a large contributor to Moblin, a "Linux-based software platform for building visually rich, dynamic, and connected applications that run on devices based on Intel® Atom™ processor technology", to enhance sales of MIDs and Netbooks. Moblin 1.0, based on Ubuntu Linux, was announced July 2007, but didn't get much traction. Around July 2008, it was reported that Moblin 2.0 was switching to a Fedora base and would be announced at the Fall 2008 IDF. That IDF came and went without a related announcement. In October, it was reported Moblin 2.0 was pushed to the 1st half of 2009.

Aside from the timeline, it's interesting to look at Moblin from the perspective of what it seeks to achieve, which is essentially an Open Source application stack and GUI optimized for mobile devices, and an associated ecosystem of software and hardware vendors to help drive adoption. Those goals are quite similar in nature to what Google's Android platform aims for, and Android is from all reports rapidly picking up steam. There's already an Android Market to deliver 3rd party apps, and with nearly 50 OHA members backing Android, 2009 is likely to replete with many new Android devices. Note that Intel is one of the OHA members, and there's now an x86 Android port which has been shown on a netbook.

By contrast, a Google news search of "moblin 2.0" yields almost nothing. And using a favorite quick-check of mine (using the counts of the auto-complete drop-down on a Google search), Moblin had 740K counts (only ~2% of Android's 31.4M)! Given how much momentum is building behind Android and the series of Moblin delays, it seems a real possibility that Moblin 2.0 will be eclipsed by Android. One of the key benefits of Moblin was that it would provide a more consistent environment for mobile devices, because there's otherwise so much fragmentation which prevents gaining a critical mass. But I'm now wondering if Android has essentially provided the means to satisfy those goals. Perhaps Intel can graft some interesting bits from Moblin onto Android, and call it a win. Otherwise, Moblin may instead create confusion and fragmentation which it originally intended to mitigate.

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