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Linux-Based MeeGo Attempts Comeback with Jolla Smartphone

Nokia may have left MeeGo for Microsoft, but that didn't mean MeeGo had to die. In fact, a startup has taken ownership of MeeGo and plans to announce its own smartphone before the end of the year.

MeeGo is a mobile operating system that Nokia abandoned in favor of Microsoft and Windows Phone. But a number of Nokia employees liked MeeGo enough to pick up the torch and form their own company, called Jolla. Based in Finland, Jolla CEO Jussi Hurmola said in an interview with Intomobile.com that they'll be revealing a new phone sometime in 2012. He would not say if the phone would be available this year, only that it would be announced.

Linux-based MeeGo was the OS that ran Nokia's well-received N9 phone. There isn't a lot of detail available about the forthcoming Jolla phone, but Hurmola has said it will have a user interface (UI) unlike those found in other smartphones, including the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

Jolla's early goals are modest: Hurmola told the Wall Street Journal that the company needs to raise about $12 million in order to produce the 50,000-100,000 phones it's targeted for the initial release. The company had about 50 employees as of June, with a goal of doubling that amount by the end of 2012.

Jolla was officially created a little more than a year ago, but has maintained a tight veil of secrecy until recently, when executives like Hurmola have started doing interviews. The company has a Twitter account, and a Web site, called jolla tides, apparently started by an N9 fan, posts information related to Jolla. The most-official company site appears to be on LinkedIn. Jolla lists its reason for existence on its LinkedIn page:

"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."

One critical factor in the success of any smartphone is the app ecosystem. Without a wide, vibrant selection of apps, customers likely won't be buying. One way Jolla may be dealing with that situation is to use OpenMobile's Application Compatibility Layer (ACL), a Dalvik virtual machine that uses the Android runtime environment. Since ACL can run all Android apps, a Jolla phone would have instant access to one of the largest app stores in the world.

The news of Jolla leveraging ACL was reported by GigaOM, which quoted a Finnish technology magazine. However, Hurmola Tweeted through his account that those reports may be premature.

"We @JollaMobile had some buzz around Android apps in the Finnish media. We have not actually revealed our full apps story yet."

With sales on such a small scale, Jolla obviously won't threaten Android or iPhone, or even Windows Phone, for market supremacy. Whether Jolla can even survive with those sorts of numbers is another question. Much will be revealed when Jolla takes the wraps off its phone later this year.

The open-source MeeGo project is hosted by the Linux Foundation.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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