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Jolla demonstrates its Sailfish OS, confirming MeeGo lives again (Updated)

Jolla Sailfish OSThe Finnish startup Jolla, the company hoping to resurrect the sleeping mobile OS known as MeeGo, has demonstrated its new Sailfish OS on stage at the Slush startup conference taking place in Finland at the moment.

Introduced by Jolla CEO Marc Dillion, who took over from Jussi Hurmola in October, those gathered at the event were treated to a short video showing Sailfish, plus a live demo showing the OS in action. Sadly, no hardware was on display, but the team did confirm that it would be bringing Jolla branded phones out in the future.

Dillon concentrated on the way Sailfish dealt with multitasking during the bulk of the demonstration. The home screen is revealed by swiping up on the lock screen, where you find a selection of “covers,” rectangular panels which denote apps already running on the phone.

These covers are interactive, so various functions can be performed inside them, for example the music player could be paused, played or advanced, all without leaving the home screen and entering a separate app. A series of gestures — primarily right to left swipes — move through apps, and just like MeeGo, a double tap on the screen wakes the device up.

Sailfish is reminiscent of MeeGo, obviously, but with added user-friendliness and even better use of gesture controls. In the short time it was being shown off, it ran smoothly and looked pleasurable to use.

The Jolla movement

Perhaps more striking than Sailfish was Jolla’s dedication to teamwork, values and fun; making the presentation very different to those given by other tech companies. Jolla says the world needs another mobile ecosystem, but one dedicated to openness, collaboration, contribution and enjoyment. It believes it’s ideally placed to fill this need, having no legacy system and no pre-existing position in the market to protect, allowing it to do things very differently.

It was all very forward-looking, with each speaker continually referring to new ways of working, generating new business ideas and creating friendships in the market; all this despite being told they couldn’t compete in a world dominated by iOS and Android. Dillon described Jolla as a “movement” at one point, which certainly captured the atmosphere on stage.

As already expected, Jolla will launch its first devices in China, however no release date was given, plus it will offer its phones to networks for use as own-brand hardware. Also, Finnish network DNA has backed the company, announcing it will promote and sell Jolla phones when they’re released in the future.

Jolla’s official website went live this morning and will be demonstrating the software development kit at the Slush event later today. It’s still very early days for Jolla, but there’s obviously plenty of motivation inside the company, and growing support outside it too. Let’s see if they live up to their promise of releasing the first Sailfish smartphone this year.

Update 11/21/2012 at 7:00am: Chipset manufacturer ST-Ericsson has announced it will be supporting future Jolla hardware, so we can expect to see the NovaThor processor inside the first run of phones. Also, a hands-on video showing Sailfish in action has been released, and we’ve added it below the official trailer here.