Ex-Nokia engineers launch new smartphone (Update)

Nov 27, 2013 by Matti Huuhtanen
A man holds up the new Jolla smartphone from Finnish mobile manufacturer Jolla in Helsinki, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Engineers who used to work for Nokia are hoping to grab a share of the lucrative and highly competitive smartphone market with a new handset, which is based on the former world No. 1 cellphone maker's old software and is faintly reminiscent of its recent models. (AP Photo/ Lehtikuva, Roni Rekomaa)

Engineers who used to work for Nokia are hoping to grab a share of the lucrative and highly competitive smartphone market with a new handset, which is based on the former world No. 1 cellphone maker's old software and is faintly reminiscent of its recent models.

The Jolla handset's Sailfish platform has been developed from the MeeGo operating software, Nokia's last open-source platform which it abandoned in 2011 when it switched over to using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows system.

The sleek 4.5-inch phone, which almost looks like it could be part of Nokia's Lumia range, features an eight megapixel camera, supports fast 4G Internet connections and includes the well-received Nokia's HERE mapping services that cover more than 190 countries.

But, unlike Nokia's phones, Jolla is also compatible with more than 85,000 apps provided by Google Inc.'s Android, the popular and dominant operating system that has helped Samsung overtake the former Finnish bellwether to be the world's largest cellphone maker.

Marc Dillon, head of Jolla software and one of four founders of the company in 2011, spent 11 years working for Nokia after moving from the United States. He says Jolla's open operating system gives it an edge over rivals.

"We are providing a world-class choice ... that is an alternative for consumers (and) that can be very agile and powerful," Dillon said in an interview in a Helsinki office block previously occupied by Nokia employees before it laid off thousands. "For our operating system business we have a huge opportunity because there is currently one choice really available to every global mobile manufacturer and that's Android."

A person holds up the new Jolla smartphone from Finnish mobile manufacturer Jolla in Helsinki, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Engineers who used to work for Nokia are hoping to grab a share of the lucrative and highly competitive smartphone market with a new handset, which is based on the former world No. 1 cellphone maker's old software and is faintly reminiscent of its recent models. (AP Photo/ Lehtikuva, Roni Rekomaa)

Other systems, such as Apple's iOS or Microsoft's Windows, can be carried only on handsets manufactured by those companies.

In a consumer test, the Jolla, which has a price tag of 399 euros ($540), didn't seem to have much to make it stand out among other smartphones. Its camera is standard; it uses a MicroSD card; has 16GB of memory storage, with a talk time and battery time of some 9-10 hours. But it has nice touches, including multiple swipe features and a useful user-replaceable battery, unlike many other models.

Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics near London says the Jolla is not "an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy killer" although it but could find a niche in the relentless smartphone race.

"At some point people will start looking for an alternative to Android and Apple so there might be an opportunity in this very cyclical market for Jolla to grab market share," Mawston said. "But I think it will be two or three versions down the line before we really know whether Jolla or Sailfish is worthy of challenging Apple or Android or Microsoft."

Finnish telecoms company DNA, which started selling the Jolla handset on Wednesday evening as hundreds lined up outside the Jolla-DNA marquee in the city center, said it had "thousands of preorders" in 136 countries, led by Finland, Germany and Britain.

The company Jolla, which now has more than 100 employees in Finland and Hong Kong, has found backers among Finnish and foreign investors, including Hong-Kong based China Fortune Holdings Ltd., but Dillon declined to give more information.

Explore further: Microsoft to take over Nokia HQ in 2014 after deal

4.3 /5 (6 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Finnish start-up launches smartphone to rival giants

May 20, 2013

A group of ex-Nokia employees who quit over the company's decision to abandon the planned MeeGo operating system in favour of Windows presented their own smartphone on Monday, hoping to rival the sector's ...

Microsoft to take over Nokia HQ in 2014 after deal

Nov 21, 2013

Nokia says its headquarters near the Finnish capital will be taken over by Microsoft on completion of the sale of its cellphone and services division to the U.S. software company, expected in early 2014.

Nokia to unveil Windows phone next week

Oct 20, 2011

Microsoft said Thursday that Nokia is going to launch phones using Windows' new mobile operating system next week, giving a major boost to the US firm's come-from-behind phone software business.

Ex-staff challenge Nokia with new Finnish smartphone

Nov 21, 2012

A group of ex-Nokia employees who quit over the company's decision to abandon the planned MeeGo operating system in favour of Windows plan to launch their own smartphone next year, their start-up said on ...

Recommended for you

Review: Better cameras, less glare in iPad Air 2

18 hours ago

If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder ...

Samsung phones cleared for US government use

Oct 21, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday some of its Galaxy mobile devices were approved by the National Security Agency for use with classified U.S. government networks and data, a boost to the company's efforts to expand in ...

Review: Apple Pay in action

Oct 21, 2014

If there ever comes a day I can ditch my wallet and use my phone to pay for everything, I'll look back to my first purchase through Apple Pay: a Big Mac and medium fries for $5.44. That wallet-free day won't ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

QuixoteJ
not rated yet Nov 27, 2013
That's right... don't you dare round off those corners! Crapple Corp will get you if you do!!!