Software developers looking for the next big thing in the mobile space might want to check out the recently released MeeGo 1.0, the new operating system produced jointly by Intel and Nokia. If it lives up to its initial release excitement, which saw MeeGo embraced by a slew of vendors, the platform could give Apple, Google, and Microsoft a run for their money in the booming market for mobile devices and apps.[login]Last week, within days of MeeGo’s release, Novell, Telefónica, UI design company Movial, netbook software provider DeviceVM and Chinese company CS2C bellied up to support the fledgling OS. Those vendors joined existing, big-name supporters such as Acer, BMW and Cisco.MeeGo is a Linux-based platform that aims to support multiple hardware architectures across a broad range of devices including netbooks, tablets, mobile phones, TVs, and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The platform combines the best of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo operating systems. MeeGo’s user interface was developed with the Nokia Qt application development environment. Qt enables developers to write once to create applications for a variety of devices and platforms, and to market them through Nokia’s Ovi Store and Intel’s AppUp Center.MeeGo is great news for app developers, said Robert McQueen, founder of Collabora. “The combined strength of Moblin and Maemo makes it easy to develop apps for the platform, and allows application developers to target a broad range of mobile and consumer computing devices across the marketplace.” “MeeGo is the most open platform for mobile app development,” said Guy Lunardi, director of Client Preloads at Novell. “It will allow developers to create apps that work on a variety of devices and apps that will be compatible with all Linux OSes.”Last week, Novell announced the release of SUSE MeeGo as a fully supported operating system for netbooks and other devices. Novell expects SUSE MeeGo to be pre-installed on a variety of devices from OEMs over the next twelve months. The flexibility of the MeeGo means working devices will likely become commonplace in a short space of time, said Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum.However, Cripps believes that MeeGo will have its work cut out to topple the offerings from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Cripps said the volume and variety of devices on which MeeGo is deployed may prove meaningless unless the consistency in the OS is matched by its ability to provide a true multi-screen application platform for developers.Nokia and Intel need to sell plenty of MeeGo devices if they want access to the potentially lucrative seam of tools, consulting, and systems integration surrounding cross-platform, multi-screen application development that Qt offers. That will be no easy task, said Cripps. “From the perspective of most third-party developers, MeeGo remains an unknown and unproven quantity that is entering an already highly competitive and crowded landscape.”Still, Cripps said it would be wrong to write off MeeGo until we see the merchandise and find out whether MeeGo and its backers have the stomach for a long, expensive fight against established players.