Jolla Smartphones, Spun Off By Nokia's MeeGo Team, Now Shipping

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-11-27
 
 
 

If you've preordered a Jolla (pronounced yoh-luh) smartphone, it may be headed your way.

Jolla co-founder Marc Dillon has told the BBC that the company—launched by ex-Nokia employees not ready to give up on the MeeGo operating system—has completed its phones, struck a deal with Finnish carrier DNA, has hopes of signing a similar deal with a U.K. carrier, and will begin shipping its first phones on Nov. 27.

Only 450 of the phones are ready, however, and the majority are going to customers who preordered, according to the report.

The Jolla phones run an OS called Sailfish (the former MeeGo), which is open-source, like Android. Helping Jolla break into a market that Android already has an 82 percent market share hold over is the fact that Jolla phones can run apps designed for Sailfish or for Android.

"We've created a world-class platform. Users will be getting more choice," said Dillon.

The Jolla phone features a 4.5-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) quarter-high-definition (qHD) display with five-point multi-touch and Gorilla 2 Glass; a dual-core processor; Long Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity; an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 2-megapixel camera up front; 16GB of memory, 1GB of RAM, and a microSD slot; user-replaceable batteries; and removable, colorful back plates that users can swap out.

The plates account for roughly half the thickness of the phones, giving them a distinctive two-piece, two-tone look.

Jolla is very user-centric, beginning with the Start-up Wizard that launches the first time the phone boots up, letting users choose apps. "We don't push preloaded apps," the company says on its site. "That way, you'll also only get updates for what you actually use."

A Swipe feature offers a quick way to get to the Home screen from any app; Peek lets users swipe up from the bottom to check Events and social updates without leaving an app; and a Pull feature, showing a list of items, offers a quick way to start the camera, makes calls and more.

In 2010, Nokia merged the Linux-based Maemo OS it was working on with Intel's Moblin (mobile Linux) OS, to form MeeGo, a platform the pair hoped would be a replacement for Symbian—the OS that Nokia had long offered on its phones but that was quickly losing favor with consumers.

MeeGo's development reportedly proceeded more slowly than expected, and in February 2011 then-CEO Stephen Elop—just a few months on the job, having come from Microsoft—announced that Nokia was partnering with Microsoft and switching its allegiance from Symbian to Windows Phone.

People believed MeeGo hadn't been given enough of a chance, Dillon told the BBC. "Everybody felt so strongly that they wanted to continue."

Also giving Jolla a helpful boost is its support from Finns, who want a new tech company to champion.

Microsoft this fall acquired Nokia's devices and services business; the deal ended Elop's term as Nokia CEO and initiated a generous bonus payout that was included in his original contract—to the surprise of many—and raised the ire of much of Finland. The country's prime minister called the $25 million payout "quite outrageous," according to the Financial Times.

Dillon told the BBC that while he wasn't trying to "piggy-back," Jolla has "seen a bump." He added, "We've had a lot of support in Finland."

DNA clearly feels strongly about the brand.

"As a Finnish operator, we consider it important to support this new Finnish success story, in which we see enormous potential," Pekka Vaisanen, vice president of DNA's Consumer Business Unit, said in a June 13 statement announcing the carrier's support of the phones.

Dillon said Jolla is ramping up its manufacturing, as well as its developer community.

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