Intel to attract LBS developers on MID platform? Good luck!

Teenager with a MID: urban legend?     (picture courtesy of Intel)
Teenager with a MID: urban legend? (picture courtesy of Intel)
Map maker NAVTEQ announced yesterday that Intel has joined its developer portal with the intention to recruit qualified LBS application developer for its MID (Mobile Internet Devices) platform.

MID devices promoted by Intel are running on a Linux-based Moblin software stack with the obvious Intel Atom processor.

While NAVTEQ developer zone is one of the best place to find LBS developers, nevertheless it seems the task is going to be challenging for Intel if we look at the current trends on the mobile and the PC market.

A future for Moblin and MIDs?

There are indeed three key reasons why Moblin will have a hard time to find a market and, possibly, developers. The first one is about the form factor. There is little consumer use case (volume sales) for Internet tablets, devices that fits between a Smartphone and a laptop (or netbook). These MID devices - such as the Clarion Mind which price has recently dropped about 50% on Amazon – are too big to fit into a pocket and too small (particularly the keyboard) to perform the task you cannot do on a smartphone. Nokia tried and failed with the N800 series – based on its Maemo Linux operating system - and finally cancelled its WiMax edition.

The second reason is that developers already have to make choices between the large number of platforms they can possibly support: iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry – not to mention Java and WebOS (Palm). Adding support for a platform which has no installed base today is clearly out of their focus.

The third reason is that the rise of the Netbook market at the one hand and the increased capabilities of Smartphone (iPhone, G1) at the other hand pretty much killed all tentative to establish a third open computing platform between a phone and a PC environment.

Moblin might find a market on Netbooks, but trying to build it on a non existing product category such as MID is clearly a recipe for failure.

Thursday, May 14th 2009

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