What do you get when the world's largest chipmaker and cell phone manufacturer shake hands? A peculiarly named operating system that can power virtually any mobile device. Intel and Nokia have agreed to merge their mobile operating systems, Moblin and Maemo, to forge a new software platform called MeeGo.

The Linux-based OS will run on a variety of hardware including mediaphones, pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, connected TVs, and in-car infotainment systems. MeeGo will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and will be entirely open source to encourage community participation. Developers can begin writing applications in Qt immediately, and the operating system should debut in the second quarter of this year.

Weird name or not, MeeGo could take off. Manufacturers often tweak existing operating systems to fit new roles – iPhone OS on the iPad and Windows 7 Starter on netbooks and tablets for example. Others create their own software, such as Lenovo and its Skylight UI. The greatest competition for MeeGo will likely be Google's Android and Chrome OS – the latter of which will arrive in the same timeframe, so it should be an interesting bout.

Will MeeGo fill a void, or is it just another contender in an increasingly cluttered mobile OS market?