Jolla's MeeGo UI is ready to go - and it's on the hunt for mobile talent

Jolla's MeeGo UI is ready to go - and it's on the hunt for mobile talent

Summary: Finnish smartphone startup Jolla is scouting out new talent in Finland and China, where Jolla's CEO Jussi Hurmola reckons its MeeGo OS can tap into the nation's hunger to make a mark on mobile innovation.

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Jolla, the Finnish startup carrying the MeeGo torch, is busy recruiting new staff this week ahead of CEO Jussi Hurmola's world tour to collect the fragments needed to quickly build up an ecosystem for the mobile OS.

Jolla, which currently employs 50 mostly Nokia castaways, was interviewing 38 potential new hires for Jolla in Finland on Wednesday. Those who make the cut will form part of its target of having 100 Finnish staff by the end of 2012, the soft deadline for the launch of its smartphone based on a MeeGo OS fork.

"We're having a recruiting day today and we're hiring lots of engineers from Finland and we're also looking... to hire people from China, so we are opening our Chinese office soon," Hurmola told Norse Code.

One source Jolla is looking to for talent are contributors to the Linux-based Mer Project, the core operating system of the MeeGo fork Jolla has chosen to build upon.

"People can go there and contribute, and we pick up the people who contribute the most to the Jolla product already."

The user interface (UI) for its Jolla device is ready to roll, according to Hurmola: "Our UI is ready now, we haven't released it yet, we will save it for the product launch and the platform is getting up now so the project looks pretty nice."

However, he wouldn't be drawn on details, saying only that the UI for Jolla's own hardware will be completely different from anything available on Android devices, iOS, Nokia's own ill-fated N9 MeeGo device, or indeed non-Jolla co-branded MeeGo devices that may surface in the future.

nokia-n9
Nokia's first and only MeeGo phone, the N9
Image credit: Nokia

The Jolla UI "will be a change from anything existing at the moment," Hurmola added. "At the time when iOS and Android came, they made a difference and they have been updating and developing their UIs a bit, but we can take a major step forward."

Global launch

The company will kickstart its foundations for a global launch by reviving assets that were developed by MeeGo ecosystem players when Nokia and Intel headed up the project - including components developed by media houses, operators and application developers scattered across the US, Europe, South America and China.

"They have their MeeGo stuff and now we are basically going around the globe and collecting all this stuff back together," said Hurmola, who sets sail next Monday to corral them, beginning in the UK, followed by Germany, San Francisco and then Beijing, where Jolla will spend up to two weeks talking with operators and retailers across China.

Reusing assets to build the new ecosystem is an approach Jolla is using to attract the support of operators, retailers and online partners, who will help it meet the enormous task of attempting to launch with an app store already in place.

"MeeGo is independent, so what we do with the app store and cloud services is we invite people into contribute their own business models and technologies into MeeGo. We work together with operators and they can integrate what they have already into the MeeGo ecosystem platform, and we are also supporting them by configuring MeeGo to fit their existing models and technologies," explained Hurmola.

"In addition to that, we want to provide a Jolla MeeGo experience, so we want to make sure there are the facilities that get access to all applications and access to Jolla. We are looking at a cloud backend and also clients on the Jolla device to be able to do this."

Hurmola is sticking to Jolla's 2012 deadline for a launch, but won't commit to a firm date. When the release does occur, the Jolla.com site will also go live, opening up a forum to discuss with customers, developers and partners.

Looking to China

While Jolla also intends to sell its devices directly to consumers, it also last month it signed a deal with large Chinese retailer D.Phone to sell its devices - a company Hurmola he describes as "major, major customer for us".

China represents much more to Jolla than customers and manufacturing, though. Hurmola believes the next wave of innovation will come from the country, and hopes Jolla can ride what he sees is a hunger within China to make a mark on smartphone innovation, not just production.

"I feel that there's a pressure in Chinese industry itself to create something inside China, and we believe that MeeGo can deliver those things," he said.

"I think China will be the next source of change. The previous changes came from the US and before that they came from Europe, but I think that the next change that will come to this market and industry will come from China. That's why we want to be there and we want to be part of this change."

Of course, Chinese consumers, retailers and operators are likely to play an important role in Jolla's survival too since it "needs to be a serious player in the market" and capture "several percent" of the world market within two years -- a figure that could mean rivaling the smartphone shares held by Microsoft's Windows Phone (5.1 percent) or Samsung's Bada (3.3 percent) in the last quarter, which equates to shipments of five and three million devices.

"This is needed in order to keep the interest in the public and secure the ecosystem growth and also be able to support the component and manufacturing we need.

"We will launch the device and we will sell as many as we can, and that will set the track record for us. I believe we can grow very quickly but I cannot give you the exact percentage at the moment," he said.

Topics: Smartphones, Linux, Nokia, Tablets, China

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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22 comments
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  • Go Jolla!

    N/T
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Turned his back

    700 million subscribers... that's how many China Mobile has. China Mobile is the company that was working with Nokia on a line of Meego phones when Herr Elop decided he didn't need 700 million subscribers.

    I dunno, maybe Jolla would like them.
    Robert Hahn
    • Elop's 1st and middle names are

      Dickhead Mongrel the III
      eulampius
  • I Found MeeGo Interesting

    I've never purchased a cell phone, so I didn't have an N9 (my cell phones have all been issued by my company). If I had been on the market for one, though, the N9 would definitely have been on my list. I found MeeGo interesting. To be honest, I still find it more interesting as a system than Android (though there is some merit to the 'virtual machine for cross-architecture compatibility' approach that Android uses). However, I have to wonder how successful this can become.

    By the way, if it's not successful, that doesn't mean I won't own a MeeGo based device. I'm known for having interesting devices that never became popular, so that's no obstacle at all :-)
    CFWhitman
  • Sorry I fell asleep after meego. So these guys are looking to waste

    more years of these peoples lives. Wonderful. At lease no one can say they didnt know it up front when they get layed off.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Re: So these guys are looking to waste more years of these peoples ...

      ... on something that sold better than Windows Phone.
      ldo17
      • Sold better while

        Being sold in niche markets with mediocre PR campaign (if they where good then only thx to carrier campaigns). With no support from CEO (every time asked about MeeGo, he took out his Lumia phone ... ).
        przemoli
  • Where were they in 2007, 2008 etc.?

    If these developers would have started serious work on their system in 2007-2008 then it would have been different matter.
    They had to be laid off to start really doing something. It may be too late however. On the other hand they can sell few phones to unsuspecting customers before company goes out of business or is sued for patent infringement.
    paul2011
    • wrong

      Don't blame developers for the obstacles placed by executive management.
      Texrat
      • Obstacles

        I do not think these were real obstacles. Seems more like development that had freedom and no clear direction combined with management that had no vision and no strategy.
        paul2011
        • Dunno about development time, but realese time...

          No serious PR campaign (while Lumias seen BIGGEST PR campaign in industry).
          No mass push (while Lumias where released to BIGGEST markets, MeeGo got scrapes).
          No CEO support (he even started to brag about Lumias whenever asked about MeeGo).
          Plain harmful acts by CEO (he even went out of the way to confirm that there will be no other MeeGo devices REGARDLESS of N9 performance).

          Well, finish was full of executive mistakes.
          przemoli
    • Have you ever compared numbers of Lumia sold and MeeGo sold?

      MeeGo outsold Lumias, and brought PROFITS, while Lumias did not.

      Its not that Nokia layed of ppl who produced losses, those are still there responsible for pushing Lumias.
      przemoli
  • So Elop killed MeeGo,

    to give a better chance to WP7 to succeed. Now MeeGo is soaring again and WP7 is dead.

    Why WP7 is death? Simply, it was a crappy OS. Now they are pushing a new kernel that is supposed to be able to address more than 1 core, what a feast!

    It will be really interesting the coming years to watch, who will last longer, WP8 or Meego. And who will have a better market share -well, seems MS fanboys now they claim that market share in mobile is IRRELEVANT...
    theo_durcan
    • WP7

      I bet that Meego will last longer than WP8. The same way Windows lasted longer than Mac OS 10.1. You just cannot compare life of one version with life of OS (or trademark) for that matter.
      We will see about market share. I doubt that Meego would do any better than WP7 or WP8. Unless Meego is something really spectacular or it runs on dumb phones. We'll see.
      paul2011
      • Billions and billions

        ...or it gets a design win at China Mobile.

        Who knows why they wanted MeeGo. Maybe they liked the fact that they could put a back door in it so that Wen Jiabao could listen in on what his peeps were saying. Regardless, if they were to adopt it, it would get a lot of share really fast.
        Robert Hahn
        • Networking technology unsupported by WinP7

          Simply.

          If no WinP7 handset will work on major carrier network than how can it be good for them?
          Also MeeGo was based on Qt4 which promised app compatibility with Symbian (which DOMINATED China not so long ago). (And now we know that MS did pushed WinP7 just for apps).
          przemoli
  • This is worth considering

    I use Android now, but I'm not entirely happy with it; and I won't even consider either IOS or Windows, where the user/owner has much less control than on Android.
    John L. Ries
    • re: This is worth considering

      I always thought that the more customizable the OS was the better it was but after owning an N9 for a year I've come to realize that an OS can be simple and still function to my needs making it quicker and easier to get the information which I need. It's obviously not going to be to everyone's taste but I strongly believe that many would have switched to the N9 from Android if it was cheaper than it was, had more apps, had the full backing of Nokia behind it and was released in major markets. Jolla now has a chance to achieve this but it's going to take a very long time. Some will make the switch and some like yourself will not.
      Dave Isaac
  • To late to the game.

    How long would it take to Jolla to get a smartphone ready for the market? I have not seen much of them so far. Do they even have a website?
    Soon iPhone5, Windows Phone Apollo (Windows 8) and BlackBerry 10 will be out.

    I dont think it's realistic that Jolla/MeGoo could compete with all of them.
    johnh3
    • Yep

      It isn't realistic. Which raises the issue of how they got funded. Given who they are and what they are doing, the most likely reason is that they have a guaranteed customer if they can bring the phones to market. If the plan were to sell MeeGo phones one at a time to individual consumers, no one sane would fund the deal. Therefore the plan must be to sell MeeGo phones by the millions to some carrier who wants them and will push them, possibly as private-label offerings.
      Robert Hahn