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We want to change the way Indians look at smartphones: Jolla founders

A smartphone is more than just its spec sheet and hardware.

Written by Debashis Sarkar | New Delhi | Updated: October 8, 2014 3:06:32 pm
We want to change the way Indians look at smartphones: Jolla founders A smartphone is more than just its spec sheet and hardware. (Source: Jolla)

There are many smartphone buyers in India who see Jolla as yet another new Chinese mobile brand. For them, here’s the Jolla story narrated by Sami Pienimäki, co-founder and CMO and Marc Dillon, co-founder and COO of Jolla. And note the name is not jhola or jollah (in Indian accent), it’s pronounced as “yolla”.

In an attempt to regain market share in 2004, Nokia was looking forward to create a new Linux-based smartphone operating system called Maemo. The project was soon merged with Intel Moblin (Mobile Linux) project and was renamed MeeGo. In September 2011, Nokia launched its first and only smartphone running the Linux-based MeeGo OS called the Nokia N9.

After the launch of N9, Nokia shifted its focus to Windows Phone and abandoned the entire MeeGo project. “We all worked with Nokia for a long time building products. After Nokia changed its strategy in February 2011, we looked at the people who worked for this asset called MeeGo. The project was invested heavily by Nokia and Intel till 2011. We realised that not only we could build our own product from where Nokia left it, but we also felt that the market really needed a change,” said Dillion.

So, Jolla is a Finnish brand with its headquarters in Helsinki, Finland (and definitely NOT Chinese). Period. Jolla was founded by ex-Nokia employees who were working in Nokia’s MeeGo team in late 2011 and Sailfish smartphone operating system is its creation. Sailfish OS is presently available on Jolla smartphones only. However, users can try the Sailfish launcher on their Android smartphones as well.

When Nokia abandoned MeeGo in 2011, the Jolla team had the open source components of MeeGo but the team had to create the Sailfish OS from ground zero as they did not have access to Nokia’s patents and IPs. “Right from 2004 till 2011, Nokia, Intel and others invested around a billion Euros in the project. After 2011, we took the open source MeeGo base and we stared to invest and collect a significant amount of interest in the Sailfish open source code base. Now, after building the Sailfish OS, we are inviting other manufacturers to use it,” said Pienimäki.

Jolla smartphone was launched in Europe last year. Many feel that Jolla is late in entering the Indian market. In reply, Dillion says that it takes a lot of time to create an operating system which is the primary reason of very few choices being available. “We don’t know whether we are late or not but we are certainly happy with our efforts to enter India now,” he said.

Jolla partnered with Snapdeal to launch its first Sailfish smartphone in India. Tony Navin, senior vice president, Electronics & Home, Snapdeal.com feels that most smartphone in the Indian market are similar. “Apart from the form factor or hardware, there are no major differentiators. Going by the trend, consumers are now looking for something that can stand apart,” he said.

Going by the spec sheet, the Jolla smartphones sounds pretty ordinary. Yes, the Sailfish OS is different, but is it good enough to make Jolla stand apart, especially in a smartphone market which is driven by low costs and high-sounding spec sheets?

“This is what we want to change. A smartphone is more than just its spec sheet and hardware. I doubt how many buyers actually need high smartphone compute power. One doesn’t need an octa-core processor to perform regular activities or even play most of the games. Also, more the CPU cores, lesser the battery life. We aim to provide a good all-round smartphone experience and deliver a fresh operating system to consumers,” said Pienimäki. Also, the company promises to send frequent updates.

Earlier, many reviewers stated that the smartphone is inspired by the Nokia N9 and Jolla has put together the best features of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 operating systems to create the Sailfish OS. To this, Dillon said, “Yes. The Jolla smartphone may be inspired by the N9 but the Sailfish OS is completely unique. We did not look at any other operating systems while creating it. As it’s an open source project, I would say others took inspiration from our Saifish OS.”

Jolla has always focused on ‘the other half’ of the smartphone which is essentially the back cover.

Jolla calls the rear half as “The Other Half” and claims it to be more than just a back cover. These are smart covers which can automatically change the colour theme, wallpaper, font along with some tweaks to the UI when changed. Jolla will look forward to further innovate this segment to even include solar panels. “The smart back cover opens up a new avenues of creativity and invention,” added Pienimäki.

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