Jolla splits hardware and software business to focus on Sailfish OS

Four years after ex-Nokia employees forming the new company, Jolla is splitting up into two: Licensing the Sailfish OS is the main focus, while hardware will be handled by another group.

Jolla, the mobile platform company formed by ex-Nokia employees in 2011, is changing it business. Jolla announced on Tuesday that it would split up into two separate entities; one to focus on software and one to be named later on hardware:

"As of today, the company Jolla Ltd. will concentrate on the development and licensing business of the independent and open mobile operating system Sailfish OS. A new company will be established to continue Jolla's device business, where the company sees a specific interest from privacy-aware consumers and corporations around the world."

If you're not familiar with Jolla, it picked up where Nokia, Intel and open source community left off a few years back. Nokia merged its Maemo platform with Intel's Mobile project and the end result was then called MeeGo. Jolla took the core of MeeGo and reworked the interface to create its own Sailfish OS.

Sailfish might not be a household name but Jolla did create a phone and tablet to run the software. The company took to Indiegogo last year to raise crowdsource funding for the tablet, generating $2.5 million from backers. The tablet was expected to start shipping in May but hasn't yet; Jolla says it faces challenges in procuring some necessary components for the slate.

The hardware business isn't easy for anyone and it's harder still for a small startup like Jolla that's trying to go it alone in a sea of iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices. That's why it's a smart strategy to divest the hardware business and focus on the software.

Jolla hopes to license Sailfish OS to other hardware makers which of course, will still be a challenge in a saturated mobile market. But at least it can rid itself of the more expensive and risky hardware business with this approach.

In contrast, Samsung trying to do much the same with its Tizen platform but it has a key advantage over Jolla: It already has a relatively successful hardware business generating cash so that it can afford to develop new products. Jolla doesn't have that to fall back on, unfortunately.