Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

Finnish startup Jolla Ltd. has launched an industry alliance in Hong Kong to develop a MeeGo-based alternative mobile operating system (OS) and supporting ecosystem for the Chinese market.

The new OS, codenamed "Sailfish," will be ready for licensing in Spring 2013. The OS is based on MeeGo and builds on the work of existing open-source projects including the Qt Project and Mer Core. Sailfish is designed to support smartphones, set-top boxes, TVs and tablets.

Jolla CEO Jussi Hurmola told Light Reading Mobile that the alliance has a funding target of €200 million (US$259 million), which will be invested by members as they join the program. Some of that investment has already been committed, but Hurmola did not say how much.

Hurmola also said that the alliance will employ about 200 people in Hong Kong.

Jolla did not reveal any of the alliance's members, but said that the group will comprise chipset vendors, device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), mobile operators and retailers. The company already has a partnership with China's largest mobile phone retailer, called D.Phone Group.

So why did Jolla choose China as the place to launch an alternative OS?

"The needs and goals for mobile operating systems are so different globally," said Hurmola. "Ecosystems and platforms are used differently in Asia. We don't want to fragment this ecosystem."

Hurmola explained that Jolla plans to launch a similar alliance for the "global" market, but he declined to specify where it will be located and which countries will be targeted.

As for the smartphones based on the new OS that Jolla plans to introduce by the end of this year, Hurmola said that the company will decide the launch date for those devices later this week.

Why this matters
Founded by a group of former Nokia employees, Jolla is an important startup to watch because of its potential to challenge the dominance of Apple and Android. And today's news shows how the startup is aiming to avoid the pitfalls of OS fragmentation by setting up regional alliances to target specific markets.

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— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:19:58 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

They also have an agreement with D.Phone which was announced back in July.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:19:57 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

That's right. I guess that partnership in the summer was a big hint about Jolla's plans. 

Based on Jussi Hurmola's comments in this story, Jolla is very keen to avoid fragmentation. And it thinks the way to prevent that from happening is to set up alliances, like this one for China, in different regions for the Sailfish OS. 

I'm looking forward to Jolla's smartphone that's coming out soon too!

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:19:55 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China


I think that became their plan when that deal was announced.  To get native apps you need devices sold, so it makes sense that they would make China a priority with that deal in place.  D.Phone could also assist in getting a manufacturer as well.


I just hope the rumor of a round phone is false.  If it is true, then they must have hired the “side-talking” guy from Nokia.


Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:19:55 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

Round phone? Haven't heard that one. I'm intrigued.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:19:54 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

I think it would be hard to use.  Have it in a pocket and since it is round, you have no idea which direction is up.  While it would be easier to hold, displays are not round, images are not round, etc.  I just view it as a weird shape not very user friendly.

Like I said, it is a rumor as is most things surrounding Jolla.  They are being very secretive and you can’t blame them.  MeeGo and the Swipe UI Nokia had would have competed nicely against Android and iOS.  Some of the main players that created the Swipe UI are now at Jolla.  It will be interesting to see what they produce but right now, they don’t want the competition to see what they are doing.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Jolla people are not using an N9 to run their OS right now.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:19:53 PM
re: Startup Jolla Revives MeeGo in China

Jolla supposedly will be unveiling their first phone next month, so not much longer to wait.  The UI work has already been completed and the core has been done.  I think most of the additional wait could be for the SDK side of the house.  Just ask Microsoft how hard an SDK is; WP8 still doesn’t have one released for all to use.

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