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Monday, February 15, 2010, 05:55 am PT (08:55 am ET)

Intel, Nokia partner for MeeGo mobile platform to take on Apple

(Mobile World Congress) Two Linux-based mobile operating systems — Intel's Mobilin and Nokia's Maemo — will be merged into one platform that will run on a wide variety of mobile devices including smartphones, the two companies announced Monday.

The groundbreaking partnership aims to take on Apple's iPhone, along with other operating systems that span across multiple devices, including Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Mobile. But Intel and Nokia said the MeeGo platform will extend beyond smartphones and will be flexible enough to scale to larger devices like full-fledged computers or in-car systems.

Renee James, Intel's vice president in charge of software, told The New York Times that although Android is "fantastic," it is also too "specific" and restrictive to run on a wide variety of devices, particularly more complex ones.

"I think it's important that there are alternatives that are truly open for innovation," James reportedly said.

Intel previously announced its Moblin operating system for low-cost notebooks running the company's low-power Atom processor. And Nokia's Maemo 5.0, first introduced last summer, was expected to play an integral role in the company's smartphones to come. The move would seem to signal the end of both platforms, though Nokia still intends to sell smartphones based on its Symbian platform.

Another interesting note by the Times: Since the platform will run on ARM-based processors (in addition to Atom), Intel will be lending support to an operating system that benefits one of its competitors. Apple has used ARM processors in its iPhone, and created a custom version of the Cortex-A9 chip, known as the Apple A4, for its recently announced iPad.

Nokia has not yet announced whether it will build any handsets or devices based on Intel's Atom processor. Both companies will keep their separate application stores: Intel's AppUp for netbooks, and Nokia's Ovi software store will remain, despite the partnership.

The first devices running MeeGo, including a new phone from Nokia, are expected to arrive later in 2010.

Nokia and Apple currently have a number of lawsuits directed at each other, making accusations of patent violations on both parties' behalves. As the iPhone has grown in popularity, Nokia has retained its status as the market leader, but has suffered significant losses at the hands of competitors.