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Intel looking for new MeeGo partner after Nokia's move to Windows Phone

The MeeGo OS for smart phones and tablets isn't a dead dodo, according to Intel, despite the fact that its partner Nokia has downgraded the platform in favour of Windows Phone.

Nokia has not abandoned the MeeGo OS it's been jointly developing with Intel, but the former company's decision to focus on Windows Phone for its smart phones looked like bad news. Intel isn't throwing in the towel, though: CEO Paul Otellini says it's looking for a new partner to keep the dream alive.

"We will find another partner. The carriers still want a third ecosystem and the carriers want an open ecosystem, and that's the thing that drives our motivation," he tells Reuters in an interview.

"Some closed models will certainly survive, because you can optimise the experience, but in general, if you harness the ability of all the engineers in the world and the developers in the world, open wins."

Otellini did not hint at who its partner might be. Apple, Nokia and BlackBerry-maker RIM are, for obvious reasons, non-starters -- although Nokia has said it still plans to release one MeeGo device this year as an experiment. Companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have been focusing on one or both of Android and Windows Phone 7, so you'd think they would have reservations about adding MeeGo to the mix.

Intel's CEO also thinks Nokia was wrong to choose Windows Phone over Android, if it had to ditch MeeGo. He tells Reuters that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had to choose between "incredible offers -- money" for his company from both Google and Microsoft as they vied to become Nokia's smart phone partner.

"I wouldn't have made the decision he made, I would probably have gone to Android if I were him," says Otellini. "MeeGo would have been the best strategy, but he concluded he couldn't afford it."

Intel has been showing a prototype MeeGo tablet on its stand at Mobile World Congress, which shows off the swipe-based user interface that lets you flick between social networks, music and other content with a flick of your fingers.

As our video hands-on shows, the pre-alpha MeeGo OS is already shaping up to be intuitive to use, while its Web browser is more than capable of browsing rich sites. Yes, including those that use Flash.

The MeeGo software looks impressive, but uncertainty about when MeeGo devices will actually go on sale can't be helpful for Intel, especially when it comes to convincing developers to port their iOS and Android apps across to it. The company needs to find a new partner soon to give MeeGo a shot at smart phone and tablet success.