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Jolla eager to join the smartphone circus

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MeeGo N9? Sailfish? mobile OS? mobile phone? Android?

With the abundance of mobile phone makers already in the market, it looks like a Finnish company is set to join the fray.

Jolla Ltd., whose name means small agile boat in Finnish, is a new smartphone technology start-up that's setting up a new ecosystem, forming an alliance in Hong Kong, and building its mobile OS and devices on MeeGo, a Linux-based, open-source software platform.

Here's the kicker. Jolla's team is comprised of former directors and core professionals from Nokia's MeeGo N9 organisation. According to the the Wall Street Journal, they've raised $258.8 million from a variety of telecommunications-industry players to use discarded Nokia Corp. technology and launch a new mobile operating platform. According to the newspaper, a variety of mobile players, including one telecom operator and chipset maker, make up the investor consortium, and Jolla is putting up $13 million into the plan.

According to techcrunch, the company is slated to unveil its MeeGo-based mobile OScodenamed Sailfishat the Slush start-up conference in Helsinki, Finland, from November 21 to 22.

Among phone geeks and industry watchers, the company, which doesn't seem to have a Website yet, is getting some buzz. The company's Twitter feed, for instance, is filled with interesting nuggets, including a question about whether Jolla will make a difference in the smartphone market.

That's a good question. How will Jolla stand out in a hyper-competitive and crowded market, where clearly only a few players are dominating in almost every region? We are bringing a new ecosystem. We are bringing a new total user experience. We are bringing a new device. We are bringing a new company. We are actually differentiating on every major front," said Jussi Hurmola, Jolla's CEO, in a KickNetwork interview.

While he couldn't disclose details yet because the product hasn't launched, Hurmola added that there is room in the market for one more player. "I can guarantee that it will stand-out from the crowd... RIM was there. Nokia was there. Symbian was there. Android came. iOS came. So it's a constantly changing game. There's always room for a new ecosystem. There are always one leader and other parties. That will always continue, but the leader will change. We're going to provide something fun and new, and an alternative for the users."

Yeah, that's true, Jussi. The industry has seen a tremendous amount of change in just the last few years. (Who would have imagined, for example, all the troubles that have recently plagued RIM and Nokia, or the courts deciding whether Samsung or Apple deserves the top spot?) But do customers want a new ecosystem or new devices?

"It will be hard, and of course I am humble against our challenges. But still, we have been having fun so far. The feedback from the users and the market has been excellent so far. I'm confident we can do it," Hurmola continued in the video interview with KickNetwork.

I, for one, love the idea of competition, and it's interesting to watch this space evolve. But it's getting to be a bit of a three-ring circus, isn't it? And, it looks as if Jolla will have to walk the tightrope, balancing between giving consumers a viable alternative and elbowing out a niche between industry heavyweights.

- Jennifer Baljko
??EBN Online Freelance writer

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