According to a Jolla press release issued over the weekend, the new independent company plans to design, develop and sell new MeeGo-based smartphones and intends to "reveal" its first device later this year, together with international private investors and partners. (See Startup Develops MeeGo Smartphones.)
Headquartered in Helsinki with an R&D office in Tampere, Finland, the company said it has been working on a new smartphone and the OS since the end of 2011 and that the OS is evolved from MeeGo, using Mer Core and Qt development tools. The company also noted, via Twitter that it is making its own new user interface for the devices.
According to the description on the company's LinkedIn page, the "Jolla team is formed by directors and core professionals from Nokia's MeeGo N9 organisation. ... The Jolla team consists of a substantial number of MeeGo's core engineers and directors, and is aggressively hiring the top MeeGo talent to contribute to the next generation smartphone production."
The startup did not provide financial details about investors or funding or even when its first product is scheduled to ship to customers.
But it did reveal who's on its management team. Jolla is led by CEO Jussi Hurmola, who previously was Nokia's director of MeeGo Computers Releases and Integration. Other members of the management team include: Dr. Antti Saarnio, chairman; Marc Dillon, COO, who was a MeeGo principal engineer at Nokia; Stefano Mosconi, CIO, who was MeeGo IT manager at Nokia; and Sami Pienimäki, VP of sales and business development, who was head of MeeGo product management at Nokia.
Nokia sidelined the MeeGo OS, which was created in partnership with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), when it announced in early 2011 that it would focus on the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Phone OS for all of its future smartphone development. MeeGo only showed up in one Nokia smartphone, the N9, which was released in June 2011. (See MWC 2011: Adios, MeeGo and Nokia's MeeGo N9 Starts Shipping.)
Why this matters
Jolla's MeeGo revival effort throws yet another smartphone OS into the crowded fray of those trying to take on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iOS.
What's interesting is that Jolla's staff and investors believe that MeeGo has a viable future, while Nokia's management clearly thought otherwise.
But Jolla is not the only open-source OS development effort attempting to compete with those mobile software giants -- another is the Linux-based OS Tizen, which is backed by Intel and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC).
A big challenge for Jolla, therefore, will be to differentiate its platform.
As for the startup's smartphone plans, Jolla will need deep pockets and strong investor backing to hold its own in the crowded, ultra-competitive high-end device market.
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— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile