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Summary:

After picking up the MeeGo torch, Jolla’s first phone running the Sailfish operating system is official and can be pre-ordered. It won’t arrive until year-end, however, and faces a huge uphill battle in market dominated by Android and iOS.

Jolla phone

Jolla, the Finnish company that continued Nokia’s work on the MeeGo mobile platform, announced details of its first smartphone on Monday. Availability for the Jolla device is expected by year end and can be pre-ordered now; the phone will be priced at no more than €399 (US $512.26). In a Kickstarter-like approach, pre-order packages also include options for Jolla T-shirts and rebate vouchers.

The Jolla hardware looks similar to that of Nokia’s Lumia, with a clean, button-less front face that houses the 4.5-inch touchcscreen. Jolla’s product page mentions “The Other Half”, which appears to be a removable back cover that comes in different colors, allowing for some device personalization. The phone will use a dual-core processor and support 4G LTE in some regions. Internal storage tops out at 16 GB, but can be expanded via microSD card. The phone also includes an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto focus.

Jolla is less about hardware, however. Jolla’s Sailfish software has roots in the old MeeGo platform that Nokia and Intel created with their Maemo and Moblin projects. The operating system offers a multitasking style interface and supports apps written with the Qt framework. But the phone is also “Android app compliant” which, in a move similar to that of BlackBerry, can help with available apps at launch.

Jolla home screen

While I like the idea of Jolla — a community-based open-source smartphone approach — I think it will be extremely difficult for Jolla to gain serious traction in the marketplace. Handset and component makers already have several platforms to work with and the potential payback to invest efforts in Jolla is relatively small.

Credit to the Jolla folks though: Even as Android and iOS rule the smartphone markets, the little Davids are still willing to take on the Goliaths.

  1. Frank A NYC Monday, May 20, 2013

    I wish them luck but, the smartphone business reminds me of the auto business in the early part of 20th century. There were plenty of car companies (car dreamers actually) eventually most wilted and died as the bigger companies either gobbled them up, or simply put out a better product at a cheaper price.

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  2. This phone has be to better than the N9 to be successful. If it is then I will buy it. Lets see.
    But I dont want to buy another phone and have it killed off straight away.

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  3. I like the nexus Android Interface.
    but nice to know there is another Open Source system to compare Android to.

    Go MeeGo ! eat some Apples and break some Windows !

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  4. W. Anderson Monday, May 20, 2013

    As a long time technologist that can be accused of not “thinking outside the box” on occasion, I relish the ingenuity, courage and spunk of these smaller start-up firms, especially in the mobile computing space, since without such steps we would not now have android – from it’s original developers, and the possibility of FirefoxOS and UbuntuONE based mobile technologies debuting in near future.

    Many millions of citizens world-wide are not comfortable with monopolies, as in the past, and do tend to gravitate toward and consider sensibly, viable alternatives to the entrenched dominant players, who always become extreme and draconian in their quest to control the masses.

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  5. Wish that they would release the full OS (not just the underlying non-GUI elements) for the N9 so we could experiment with it.

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  6. I think the biggest factor for Jolla is how they are perceived in their target market–China. With Google Play not being as powerful in China as it is here, sideloading or 3rd party app stores won’t be as much of a hindrance to acceptance. If they position themselves as having more value then just android alone then they might be able to garner more development support. Also, if the custom covers can do more than just change the ambiance then they the possibility for partnership and 3rd party add-ons increase. I like their fresh approach and hope they survive long enough to launch a second phone.

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  7. Finally! A phone worth buying.

    These phones are much more than a smartphone, they are phone/computer hybrids.
    ie. they can run professional desktop software as well as specialized phone software without modification.

    Therefore they are aimed at a different market:
    * Computer specialistst and workers.
    * Office work.
    * People who like to customize their phone look and/or behaviour.
    * People interested in the latest software.
    * Free software proponents.

    As long as they keep the X11 server, and basic Linux standard compliance, these should sell like hotcakes.

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  8. I’ve seen a lot of negative comments about Jolla being unable to compete. I disagree. Meego had billions spent on it along with 2 years of hard work from Nokia, Intel and other partners. It was going to be the next big OS until Elop (an ex-microsoft guy) pulled the plug. We did however get 1 Meego device (the Nokia N9) and it was very intuitive and considering the hardware specs it felt like a quality device.

    So Jolla isn’t just a bunch of dreamers, they’re continuing a project that has a big fan base and has had billions spent on it. They’ve got partnerships with huge companies and I think I read that they’ve got over 500 million euros of
    investment behind them.

    They’re obviously not going to outsell Apple for a very very long time but with the Android app support you can safely say that they’re here to stay and if the play their cards right they will just keep growing and growing.

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  9. I just picked up a Nokia N9, and it’s a fabulous phone – only inhibited by the lack of new apps.

    The OS is outstanding. Elegant, non-intrusive and very responsive. Downloading, installing and even uninstalling apps is a simple matter.

    If this can advance the work done by Nokia, then it has a chance.

    Long-term prediction (hope): Elop gets fired. Successor comes in, restarts MeeGo development alongside Windows Phone, acquires Jolla and brings talent back into the fold.

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