JOLLA: a MeeGo fan’s perspective

Jolla today released details of their upcoming smartphone device, named the ‘Jolla phone’ at the moment, and they also began the process of signing up interested people to preorder the device for when it comes available later this year. Those brave souls who participate in the pre-ordering will receive a Jolla-branded T-shirt and 100€ off the price of the unit, which (at the moment) is guaranteed to be not above 399€ (about $500 excluding shipping), so you effectively will be asked to pay 299€ for the Jolla phone when it is ready to be shipped. As of right now, the phone’s preorder is only available in certain European countries. It’s useful to know people in those countries if you’re say, living in the US!

 They are putting their faith in people, that’s for sure. I for one have put my faith in Jolla and I immediately signed up and paid my money (about $130) to preorder the phone. Why? Because I am confident that whatever they produce at the end of the year will certainly be something I would want to buy, and use as my main device, in addition to my Nokia phones, namely the Nokia 808 PureView for its amazing camera power. The demos of the Sailfish OS look exactly what I want, coming from an N9.

The formation of Jolla is well-documented, but my take on it is this: there were talented Linux programmers within Nokia who had managed to produce the Nokia Internet Tablets, most famously with the phone-capable Nokia N900. I owned one of these and absolutely loved it. I loved it not because everything worked out of the box like the mass-market phones did, but because it was the ultimate geek-phone, a phone that needed odd tweaks and side-loaded mods and apps for things like MMS to even work properly. I know it may sound daft, but that was the appeal. The appeal was also being part of a real, passionate community, the Maemo forum members who chatted freely on and swapped ideas, apps, tweaks, mods, to make their N900 device better and better, without the help of the company that created it in the first place. It was very cool, despite its shortcomings, and was not seen as a mass-market phone. Indeed, the idea from the community of a mass-market device made us shudder (think: iPhone!) Many of the developers of Maemo were active participants on TMO and would give advice and opinions (usually under their pseudonym TMO handle for anonymity) and this made you feel that you were truly connecting with the actual people who wrote the code for the phone. Something I doubt you could do with any other platform at the time.

When the MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 was launched, it was after the big February 11th 2011 announcement when the company switched to Windows Phone, so the Maemo community just knew that the N9 was going to be doomed and support and development cut chort. When we got our hands on it, it was even more bittersweet because the N9 was/is such a beautiful piece of hardware. MeeGo-Harmattan was also seen as a huge success from the same team that produced the N900, but even the most diehard of N9 fans could see that there were big holes in the OS, big holes that were most likely not going to filled in now that Nokia was going down the Microsoft road.

Once the CEO had decided this, and once the various Maemo-MeeGo developers and coders were sacked from the mother company, they decided to not go and work in Starbucks or BestBuy, but to band together to continue what they had been so good at, and start their own venture, Jolla. And why not? These guys and gals had enormous talent, and I’m sure that if Nokia were under different management (like Rich Green as CEO for example) and the company had preferred to keep it all in-house like continuing to invest in MeeGo for its top end smartphone division, the people who are now at Jolla would be the heroes at Nokia right now, producing incredible devices that could possibly rival the iPhones and Galaxies of this world. But as it happened, they were sacked. So I think what they did was admirable, brave and sensible, given that their skill-set meant that they could take what they had brought to and learned from Nokia, and use it to some benefit. What a waste that would have been if they’d ditched their passion to work in a field that had nothing to do with mobile technology?


Now, some may say that the Jolla sailors are riding (or sailing?) on the coattails of their previous employer, Nokia. I disagree. Sure, they may be basing their Sailfish OS on MeeGo (outwardly by the way) but of course, why wouldn’t they? Nokia sure as heck didn’t want to keep it for their own development, so it makes perfect sense to me that a company that sacks its employees who are expert in a particular field, allows them to continue that particular field if the employer has no further interest in it. Nokia and MeeGo are over, that is plain for all to see, so why then, shouldn’t these talented people use those skills and knowledge to build up a brand new OS and device based on the success of all their previous hard work? Nokia are certainly not threatened by this, and they shouldn’t be. Nokia have enough to do battling against the leviathan that is Android. A small startup like Jolla is the least of their worries, and if anything, they are probably grateful that some good is coming out of a very tricky situation when they decided to make a large portion of their staff unemployed.



Jolla is brand new, so there are bound to be questions, there is bound to be skepticism and there is most certainly going to be cynicism out there. But it surely must be seen as a positive thing, that from a ‘burning platform’ a ‘life-dinghy’ has been able to stay afloat to help some people survive, if not thrive. And who benefits? Well obviously them, but also us, the consumers. Because once the device is released into the wild, it’s not going to overtake Nokia, Samsung or Apple, but it will provide (as BlackBerry are doing) another branch for people to take in the mobile world that is off the beaten path.


As Nokia enthusiasts, we must understand that the history of Nokia has changed a great deal over the years, and this is one department that may have been shut down, to the great dismay of many, but has new life elsewhere. Its roots are Nokian, and the people who run Jolla were, at one time, very passionate about Nokia. The sheer fact that they are taking MeeGo to new heights says just that. And people need not worry about timescales and device reliability. I have every faith that without the shackles of corporate interference and red tape, the guys at Jolla will thrive better than they did when they were on Nokia’s payroll. They won’t have to ‘battle it out’ with another in-house OS team (ahem, Symbian) and they won’t have R&D money suddenly cut and new deadlines thrust in their faces. They are their own entity now, and they are in charge of Jolla and what it is capable of. We’ve already seen some excellent demonstrations of their talent in the Sailfish OS videos out there. Sure, they will be judged ultimately on their shipped products and their services, but from what has been revealed so far, I’m very confident that the Jolla phone will complement my collection of Nokias very nicely, and I wish them all the luck in the world.


Lenny Bonsignore
Lenny Bonsignore
Lenny Bonsignore @LennyBons34 is Owner/Editor- in -Chief of OneTechStop, Sports fan, Tech guy, & Mailman by Day [email protected]

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  1. Whether Jolla ultimately succeeds or not — and I hope that they will — all I know is that I have not been this excited about a new mobile device since the Palm Pilot creators split off to form Handspring. In the various videos you can sense the passion and excitement that the Jolla people have in their product, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of phone makers today. I love their fighting spirit and willingness to take a huge risk, which alone makes me want to buy their product sight unseen (call this “the drink’s on me” instead of drinking the Kool-Aid).

    • I totally agree, Tom. It’s that personal touch that makes me feel like I want to be a part of (what will most likely be) a small, tight-knit community, echoing the Maemo days and the current MeeGo ones. I know Nokia have really improved their customer service and comms recently, which is great. But Elop never writes personal tweets or emails, because he probably receives about a million a day. Marc Dillon et al are already reaching out personally to interested people, which I think shows that they are willing to listen to their fans.

      • Yeah, about 50% of my comments on their Facebook page gets personally replied to, which really drives home that personal touch point you mentioned.

  2. Nice discussions here,I preordered one yesterday,counting on nokiamaps licence,the rest of todsys nokiaphones they can keep 🙂

  3. WHAT IF?

    what if sailfish could be installed on most phones? N9, N900, and why not on 808, lumias, iphones, androids and BBs… kind of the nitdroid on N900

    and if were possible a dual-boot (original OS and sailfish)

    I will put sailfish on my 808 for example. to have my powerfull camera and an Adobe AIR compatible phone (install apk which use HW acceleration)

    probably the sailfish is not far away for N9…

    this will be a really GAME CHANGER, but really don’t know if is possible because kind of encourages the hacking…

    but what is wrong with that? I paid for my phone I will do whatever I want with it…

    PLEASE MAKE A HALF FOR EVERY PHONE (the alternative OS for every phone: sailfish)

    • That would be superb. Sounds a bit idealistic though, although in the future Sailfish sounds like the kind of flexible OS that could be ported to future devices that have that capability. Who knows, but I’m sure the community will find a way – they always do! haha :^)

    • The problem is you need drivers for all the hardware in the phones. eg. the GPS chip, the 808’s DSP, even the mobile phone voice/data parts.

      Many of these components are proprietary and the manufacturers will not provide open source driver source code to adapt. If you’re lucky you might get a binary module for the Android kernel if it’s been used in an Android phone already.

      • I still hope that phones would be like computers. when you buy one, it comes with drivers and you can chose to install whatever OS you want.

        unfortunately the phone’s world is different because the manufacturers saw that danger and the phones are linked to the OS/ecosistem…

        if this is not possible maybe a phone with drivers for all major OS android/sailfish/ubuntu/tizen/whatever and you can chose when buy a new phone or after

  4. Great job!
    I only JUST realized that while I have been following the development of Jolla since the start I will lose Nokia Maps and Nokia Music from my Nokia N9 Awesomeness…

    I really hope they (Jolla) hit a home run and don’t stop there.

    • Well yes, but t’s still early days so we don’t know what kind of mapping/music apps they will have. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of deal whereby Jolla licensed Nokia Maps/Music from Nokia (at a discount!) haha We’ll see what happens. :^)

  5. Nice sums up how so many of us feel jolla is more nokian culture than Nokia it self actually is now innovation still live in the mobile world

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