Jolla’s MeeGo revival plans shape up with $260m ecosystem alliance

We already knew that Jolla, the Finnish company hoping to take on Google and Apple with a revived MeeGo, was going to start its crusade in China. But now that plan is solidifying, as Jolla has just announced the establishment of an industry alliance based in Hong Kong.

I say ‘alliance’, but it’s not clear yet who the other members will be. All Jolla is revealing is that its partners will be “leading players in the industry” such as chipset vendors, operators, retailers and both OEM and ODM manufacturers. Names will be revealed soon, hopefully.

Oh, and the partners will be investing an impressive €200m ($258m) into this new ecosystem. As Jolla itself only has seed funding through Nokia’s Bridge program (it’s a spinoff of sorts), it can be safely assumed that the other partners are the ones stumping up the big cash.

“China is a game changer in the technology industry,” Jolla chief Jussi Hurmola said in a statement. “The next big mobile change will come from China and Jolla wants to be enabling it. There are massive resources and competence to transport the whole industry.”

The OS that this alliance will be touting is codenamed Sailfish, and it will be ready for licensing to “other device manufacturers, design houses and service companies” in the spring of 2013. Sailfish will also be based on MeeGo, but it is important to note that this is a separate initiative from the Jolla device that will launch in China this year through the distributor DPhone.

Sailfish may also have a wider scope than the Jolla OS, adding new device classes such as automotive to the tablet-smartphone-TV spread we already knew about.

An interesting aspect of this announcement is the importance of the Sailfish alliance datacentre, which will be hosted at the Cyberport Hong Kong facility. It looks like this will be the base for a variety of Sailfish cloud and collaboration services. And according to Jolla, Cyberport has hefty links through to China, Europe and the U.S.

“We’ve been following Jolla’s development closely and are now delighted to see Jolla select Cyberport as the primary location to host the new mobile OS,” Cyberport COO Mark Clift said.

Jolla is also setting up new R&D facilities in Hong Kong and China, the company added in its release.

Clearing up confusion

I must admit the addition of ‘Sailfish’ to the Jolla lexicon threw me a bit. Happily, Hurmola cleared up my confusion, so here’s a quick primer on which name fits which part of this story:

MeeGo: The ex-Nokia/Intel OS that underpins what’s going on here.
Jolla: The name of Hurmola’s company, and the name of the phone that will launch this year, and most likely the branding put on the OS that phone runs.
Sailfish: The name of the alliance and the current codename for the branding of the OS that this alliance will use. According to Hurmola, this OS will be “as close as possible” to the Jolla OS powering this year’s device, although there may be some differences.