The internal team responsible for Nokia’s MeeGo platform has taken the wraps off of a new company which is dedicated to providing the now moribund platform another chance at success. The new company known as Jolla (Finnish for ‘dinghy’) is made up of the core members of the former internal Nokia MeeGo team that was responsible for the latest and possibly final N9 update released this past week for current owners of the smart device, as well as key members of the Maemo development community.
The roots of Jolla begin way before today’s quiet unveiling, beginning last Fall as the company has been incorporated since last September, with this morning’s unveiling serving as the call to arms of sorts for developers and owners of the N900/N9/N950 that the quest for MeeGo’s goals has not ended and has indeed only just begun, as Jolla is seeking interested developers and community members to work for the company as it undertakes the goal of reviving MeeGo in spirit, although it will do so with the following differences.
Nokia’s MeeGo is Dead, Long Live MeeGo, Enter Mer Project
Jolla has confirmed that it will not handle maintenance or further development of Maemo/MeeGo devices released by Nokia such as the aforementioned N900/N9/N950. This means that Jolla will not support Nokia’s version of MeeGo, known as Harmattan and instead will use a fork of the MeeGo core known as Mer. The Mer Project recently resumed work on the fork following MeeGo’s internal collapse last year.
Mer takes the key elements of the cores that formed MeeGo and Tizen and will re-focus the platform on further individual Tizen/Qt/EFL/HTML5 element integration, with the additional goal of contributing changes and additions to the core Tizen project while being completely transparent and a meritocracy. As the MeeGo name is still officially trademarked to Nokia and Intel, the fact that the team forked the project last Fall while incorporating the new company showed a rather surprising level of foresight on the part of the founders, though they are currently retaining the name for marketing purposes and to make it easier to explain their long-term goals.
This means that while Nokia has yet to officially confirm the status of its MeeGo devices, the N9/N950/N900 are as good as dead when talking about active device status, as the core MeeGo team handled last week’s N9 update and rolled it out as a sign of goodwill before departing Nokia officially. This also means that anyone that wants to buy an N9 or can manage to find an N950 should buy it as soon as possible to receive the latest update, as there’s no immediate word on how long it will remain available. This is especially true for owners in Latin American markets, as the N9 was one of the few phones to thrive against Android and iOS in those markets where it was made available on an official basis, such as Mexico and Argentina.
Jolla Is All About New Phones
The main goal of Jolla is to build new phones with the Mer fork of MeeGo for not only the development community but also for general consumers. To that end, it is teasing larger than normal levels of investment with the goal of creating new hardware for sale but has yet to confirm timelines for devices or even who is backing them. Below, a statement on Jolla from chief operating officer Marc Dillion. taken from the company’s LinkedIn page.
Jolla Ltd. is a Finland based smartphone company which continues the great work that Nokia started with MeeGo. The Jolla team is formed by directors and core professionals from Nokia’s MeeGo N9 organisation, together with some of the best minds working on MeeGo in the communities.
Nokia created something wonderful – the world’s best smartphone product. It deserves to be continued, and we will do that together with all the bright and gifted people contributing to the MeeGo success story.
Together with international investors and partners, Jolla Ltd. will design, develop and sell new MeeGo based smartphones. 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.
What This Means for Everyone Inside and Outside of Nokia
For Nokia, they’ve lost the “Plan B” that executives and shareholders secretly admitted to having following the drastic under performance of Windows Phone now that Symbian is near moribund save for updates from Accenture and Meltemi is dead.
MeeGo went from being Nokia’s potential savior with incredible performance and glowing critical praise, to Stephen Elop’s worst nightmare as it was already years ahead of Windows Phone 7 and 8. This led him to relegate it to an internal project at the behest of many employees in order to drive the Windows Phone platform, a platform that is still struggling and increasingly driving more people to alternatives as the next version won’t be out until later this Fall and possibly not until the same timeframe as Windows 8 proper. This would complicate short-term prospects for Nokia even further than they already are, since current Lumia series devices will not be updated, save for a token update and more people are refusing to buy Lumia smartphones until the first wave of Windows Phone 8 devices.
For everyone else looking in, Jolla is yet another alternative to the growing dominance of iOS and Android, with the advantages of being unencumbered by the myriad of patent issues that now define Android and are allowing for the recent crop of alternatives such as Firefox OS and Open webOS to gain traction, especially in light of recent high-profile judgements against device manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung for violating patents held by Apple, which have led to damaging device embargos and modifications that have actively hamstrung performance on select Android devices.
What now remains to be seen is if Jolla can take the critical acclaim of Nokia’s MeeGo/Harmattan and not only build on it, but make it better than it ever had a chance to be, with the hardware to match.
The following executives are now a part of Jolla:
Dr. Antti Saarnio – Chairman & Finance
Mr. Jussi Hurmola – CEO
Mr. Sami Pienimäki – VP, Sales & Business Development
Mr. Stefano Mosconi – CIO
Mr. Marc Dillon – COO