In July, ambitious Finnish startup Jolla announced it had adopted the abandoned — by Nokia, at least — operating system MeeGo, and would be designing and developing new smartphones based around it.
Jolla’s seriousness was proven by the members of its team, the majority of whom worked on MeeGo with Nokia, and therefore were both personally and professionally attached to the project from the start. MeeGo has plenty of fans around the world too, thanks primarily to the Nokia N9, the one and so-far only MeeGo smartphone to be released.
That could all change very soon though, as Jolla has announced that it has raised 200 million euros/$260 million in funding, and that its first smartphone is almost ready for its public debut.
Details on the funding are sketchy, with Jolla saying only that it has formed an alliance with “leading players in the industry,” and that a data center to host the OS’s cloud services and infrastructure will be setup through Cyberport in Hong Kong. This is an important point, as Jolla plans to aggressively target the Asian and Chinese market, calling China a “game changer in the technology industry,” adding how it wants to create the “third smartphone ecosystem in China,” after Android and iOS.
Jolla’s MeeGo OS has a codename too, Sailfish, and it will make its first appearance very soon. Jussi Hurmola, Jolla’s CEO, called the OS “more open than Google Android regarding apps and service development,” and said in a tweet that now the ecosystem support system is in place, the company “is very close to announce the date for the device launch.” Speaking to Lightreading.com, Hurmola said that the launch dates for the hardware would be decided later this week.
International availability promised
International fans of MeeGo shouldn’t despair at this apparent focus on Asia, as a tweet from Jolla’s official Twitter account stated that Sailfish is “definitely not for China only.”
As for the first phone, if Jolla listens to those who voted in its poll to find out the preferred form factor for the debut device, it’ll be a touchscreen QWERTY slider. Of the just over 3,000 people who voted, 47-percent chose it, despite — or perhaps because of — the design having fallen from mainstream grace over the past few years. The phone announced is almost certainly going to be a pre-release device though, as Sailboat isn’t going to be available for licensing until early 2013.
Speculating on whether Jolla has a meaningful future ahead of it is almost impossible at this stage, particularly without a look at the Sailboat OS and the phone on which it will first appear. Concentrating on rapidly developing markets — in this case China — is a solid tactic, and something which other companies looking to re-invent themselves are also doing.
Competition is fierce though, with ZTE already adopting Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and the Alibaba Group pledging to invest $200 million per month into its Aliyun mobile OS. Jolla has certainly got some hard work ahead if it wants that coveted third position in the market.
Jolla has announced via its official Facebook page that we’ll get our first look at the new user interface, and hear details about the app ecosystem and SDK, at the Slush startup conference to be held in Helsinki, Finland on November 21 and November 22 this year.