Four former Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) engineers along with another partner, began a small smartphone company in 2011 called Jolla with the intention of doing something new. Right now the company stands at 70 employees strong and has announced that it will launch its first smartphone in the fourth quarter retailing at 399 Euros ($519). The company is taking aim at mid-range to high-range manufacturers.
The group left Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) in response to the company’s decision to abandon the MeeGo operating system in favor of Windows. Their decision to do things differently and go their own way resulted in the unveiling of their first phone today. The phone, known as Jolla, will feature a 4.5-inch touch screen, be completely button-less, and will be comprised of two differently colored halves.
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The primary difference between Jolla’s phone and its competitors’ is that Jolla will not be running Windows, Android, or iOS. Rather, the company has developed its own operating system known as Sailfish OS. Sailfish views itself as the successor to MeeGo, the OS that Nokia abandoned and prompted the group to leave Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V). Sailfish OS offers limited compatibility with Android apps.
According to Marc Dillon, head of Sailfish development, existing operating systems “do not really support a great deal of flexibility. One (iOS) is completely closed and one (Android) pushes its own services pretty heavily.”
“I see that Sailfish will be used on lots of different devices from other manufacturers as well. We have a constant stream of interest,” he told AFP. Mr. Dillon also went on to say that he would be more than happy if the company were to sell a million units in the first year. The company hopes to accomplish this through two distribution deals the company has already signed; one with the largest smartphone retailer in China, D.Phone, and the Finnish operator DNA.
For Mikael Rautanen, an analyst at equity research company Inderes, that million unit mark won’t cut it. “If Jolla manages to sell two million phones in the year following the launch, then we can talk about success,” he said.
Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) analyst Sami Sarkamies was equally pessimistic about Jolla’s potential success but added, “the platform (operating system) that they’re developing has a lot more potential.”
In addition to offering Sailfish OS to smartphone manufacturers the company announced that Sailfish was also designed to run on tablets.