First Crop of MeeGo Tablets Expected by June

MeeGo tablets could reportedly be on the market as soon as the second-quarter of 2011. Intel is said to be shipping reference tablets to developers and the target date for final hardware is June.

Note that Taiwan's giant electronics trade show, Computex, is May 31-June 4. Putting it all together, an educated guess would have this first crop of MeeGo tablets coming from the likes of Asus, Acer and other Taiwanese makers. But European makers would almost certainly also be in the crowd, too, given that MeeGo is a joint effort between Intel and Nokia. The first MeeGo tablet has already been around for about a year. Intel was demoing it at CES, the WeTab, currently made, and only available, in Europe.

Obviously, Nokia is expected to be among the first, too. Rumored leaked photos surfaced earlier this month of a Nokia MeeGo tablet that looks to be based on the ST-Ericsson U8500 reference hardware. But that runs dual 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 cores. We would think that Nokia would have the decency to create its first MeeGo tablet -- and a dual-core tab at that -- using Intel's chips.

This is rumored to be a leaked picture of the upcoming Nokia MeeGo tablet.

There's reason to believe it. While it's true that the current version 1.1 of MeeGo, released in October, promises to work with both Intel Atom and ARMv7 (v1.2 is slated for April) that was because Nokia had planned to port its ARM-based N900 to MeeGo. Now we've heard that Nokia scrapped those plans and is instead focusing on a port of the N9. This new N9 was supposedly even briefly waved around by Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group at the company's sales conference in January. The phone is said to be using Intel's latest Medfield chip. We hear it will be officially on display in Barcelona at the World Mobile Conference later this month, too.

That isn't just any old smartphone, but is said to be a N9 running MeeGo and Medfield.

Nokia still makes the Maemo 5 version of the N900, based on Debian Linux, by the way, even though Nokia also officially scrapped Maemo in favor of merging it into MeeGo, just as Intel has merged Moblin into MeeGo.

There's more rumors over MeeGo, so we might as well share these, too. MeeGo can't thrive without applications, and so it's expected that Intel will expand its AppUp center by Q3 to host MeeGo/tablet applications. AppUp is currently a site that hosts applications for netbooks running Windows XP, Windows 7 and Moblin.

It would be fairly easy to dismiss MeeGo were it not for Intel's involvement and the appeal it could have to device makers. MeeGo will be more like Linux than Android is, with no bottleneck waiting for a single controlling entity (i.e. Google) to update the code, Intel says.

The other thing MeeGo has going for it is that Intel and Nokia are doing right by its initial target audience -- Linux loving app developers. MeeGo is managed by Linux Foundation, albeit the project's community leaders are employed by Intel and Nokia.

The bigger question is, does Intel and Nokia have a real shot with it? With Android now fully embraced as the primary competitor to iOS, the world isn't holding its breath. Just a few months ago, MeeGo was envisioned as being primarily for netbooks and smartphones, not tablets. By the time MeeGo gets up and running, netbooks could have become a short-lived fad, all but killed by tablets, and MeeGo left in the dust.