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Ex-Nokia Staff To Build MeeGo-based Smartphones 200

Posted by timothy
from the hope-springs-eternal dept.
Snirt writes "A group of ex-Nokia staff and MeeGo enthusiasts has formed Jolla (Finnish for 'dinghy'), a mobile startup with the aim of bringing new MeeGo devices to the market. According to its LinkedIn page, Jolla consists of directors and core professionals from Nokia's MeeGo N9 organization, together with some of the best minds working on MeeGo in the communities."
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Ex-Nokia Staff To Build MeeGo-based Smartphones

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  • Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tancred (3904) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:46PM (#40577917)

    I think it's too late due to the developer network effect (same goes for Firefox OS and even Windows Phone). But I'd like to be wrong about that.

    • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fatphil (181876) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:50PM (#40578275) Homepage
      Your worries are valid. My hope is that they decide that absolute openness of the platform (so basically like the true-Maemo n900 was, rather than the fake-MeeGo-broken-Maemo n9) will lower the entry bar to a level where people feel it might be a fun thing to play with, as the time investment on trying to work around restrictions is minimal. I.e. something every linux hacker would want. Once (and if, of course) there's a critical mass, hopefully it will take off in a bigger way.
      • If it is open, count on me to buy a device. Even if the only things running on this device are a text editor and a mail client. Hell, even if I need to write the mail client myself.

        • +1 will buy any new open phone with a keyboard to succeed my N900. There's always so much suspense between buying new phones for me, and it gets more severe every time.

          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:46PM (#40578921) Homepage

            And with the rest of the Slashdot posters who chime in they could sell several dozen. Probably even enough to give Windows Phone a run for it's money.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            When I pulled out my N950 proto in a pub in Helsinki a year or so back, 5 out of the other 6 people at the table (none of whom were Nokians) were N900 owners and every single one said that they don't care one jot about the N9, they want the keyboard - and would pay money for it.

            I have no idea which particular manager was behind the 'developer device only' decision for the N950, but I hope his crack is cut with something nasty.
          • Agree completely.

        • by fatphil (181876)
          I know people who ported mutt and alpine to the N900.

          Then again, most people I knew who wanted to have old-school mail just ran SSH in a terminal to a remote 'screen' session on their home machines, where they were running mutt locally.

          We (in the kernel development team) often used to[*] joke about booting to a shell. There could be a binary called 'call', and if that was too much to type, set up a bleedin' alias for it! Want to hang up? Simple - that's Control-C! And what could be simpler than:
          $ sms anna '
          • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Interesting)

            by KiloByte (825081) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @11:14PM (#40579803)

            While N900 is the best smartphone currently existing, it is a terrible phone exactly due to the telephony interface. If it rings while in a bag, there's a ~50% chance some random button on the touchscreen will press itself (and an incoming call unlocks the screen!). It can drop calls entirely due to a "turn the phone face down" gesture which must have taken some serious drugs to invent. The interface for calling someone is not any better.

            So really, if there's a way to initiate (and perhaps even receive!) calls from the command line, it would actually be better than current shit. After beating some sense into the keyboard code, the terminal is more convenient to use than most laptops, I'd sure take having to type "accept" or an alias over randomly rejecting calls.

          • I'd love that.

            --Posted from my N900.

      • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:40PM (#40578545) Journal

        But are there enough "Linux hackers" that would bother to buy the thing? After all we've seen that Linux hackers would rather have the Windows Tax break than buy from places like System76 as the Newegg article from a few weeks back showed, and Open Moko didn't sell enough to make it worth doing, so I'm seriously doubtful there are enough hackers that give a shit about their phone OS to actually make this worthwhile.

        After all if Linux hackers only bought from Linux vendors and bought open hardware we'd already have a market with such devices, but the fact that we don't leads me to believe there just isn't enough that care what runs on their phones. Hell without economy of scale on their side these things will probably be higher than a decent Android phone, not to mention I seriously doubt ANY carrier is gonna offer a hacker friendly phone on contract so it'll be full price city which averages $400-$600, at least around here. How many people are gonna pay that just to have a fully hackable phone? Raise of hands, how many here will be pre-ordering if they offer it?

        Sorry to be a downer but without a major OEM like Samsung or Nokia behind it I just don't see any of these niche phones going anywhere, and that goes for WebOS, MozOS, and WinPhone as well.

        • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Informative)

          by fatphil (181876) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:43PM (#40578903) Homepage
          Estonians (not know for being the richest country in the world) paid ~$800 for an N900. That's way more than a month's average wage here.

          Finns pre-ordered at that same price by the thousand. I know _dozens_ of people with the N900, more than of any other phone I know. And I'm not just thinking of my colleagues who used the prototypes as our daily device while working on the project (that would be hundreds, not dozens), I'm thinking of non-Nokians who paid cold hard cash for the thing.

          However, you're right, this would be a niche thing. The market is going through a catastrophic collapse towards a duoculture or even monoculture, the chance of anything new (or old but recycled) making it big now are absolutely minimal. They've got to fight over the scraps now. Achieving critical mass is not for domination - it's for staying alive.

          Downer? Hah! You're barely making a dent compared with what Elop did to me! (By joining the company 2 years back...)
        • by unixisc (2429386)
          Most Linux fans see Android as Linux and have no problems getting normal Android phones. Those who are either Applecionados or BSD fans are happy to get their iPhones. There is all of the Linux & BSD fanbase right there. They hardly even have any desire for WebOS, much less things like Vivaldi, Mer or Tizen. Phones and tablets are not the markets that new Linux entrants ought to be trying to break in. Instead, go after Windows 8 - they'll have a lot better chance there.
        • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Interesting)

          by davydagger (2566757) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @01:50AM (#40580419)
          sure there are.

          the n9 sold more phones with no support than the overhyped windows phone in the same time peroid.

          People will ask for it by name, and the people who want it are usually willing to pay, as its more than just a phone, as the rest of them are to other people.
        • by drkstr1 (2072368)
          I paid ridiculous eBay money for my Nokia 9290, so I'm sure there is at least a small market there with people like me. I don't think their goal is to be the next Apple, but rather eek out a respectable profit in a niche market. If you ask me, being the only player in a niche market is good businesses.
      • Re:Good luck (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Microlith (54737) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:58PM (#40578671)

        They don't need to make a device targeted at Linux hackers. They can add those capabilities on whatever device they make. What they need to do is take the territory that Nokia lost when they abandoned Symbian, and deliver on support in ways that Android vendors fail utterly at. If they can do that, catering to us nerds is something they'll do anyway because they'll want that capability themselves.

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          and I guess there's options here for the OS to be picked up by a big electronics corporate (say, LG or Sony perhaps) who wants to have a "presence" in the smartphone market without having to be another me-too Android manufacturer.

          There's marketplaces that can be tapped - especially the featurephone marketplace, if the OS can be trimmed down to fit on a supercheap phone, it has a place. Even if it can't, it can be positioned as a computer-in-your-pocket with a desktop/TV dock that is the holy grail of smartp

      • by Teun (17872)
        Indeed, the closer it is to a standard Linux, preferably a deb system, the better the chance software is easy to port.

        Why would a manufacturer that presently is depending on Google to update Android not be tempted by something much more common?
        The price is in large parts of the world not an issue, most people I know do like me and buy their phone outright and then get a service with it.

        The US market is important but not exactly the standard of things mobile.

      • >(so basically like the true-Maemo n900 was, rather than the fake-MeeGo-broken-Maemo n9)

        I haven't heard this (n900 user, haven't seen or used the n9), please elaborate.

        • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Informative)

          by Microlith (54737) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @11:25PM (#40579867)

          The N9's Harmattan is basically Maemo 6, only without GTK and the "Aegis" security system in place. It was "MeeGo-compatible" due to sharing a number of platform APIs and including Qt, but not MeeGo due to lacking some APIs MeeGo had as well as being DEB based and not RPM based.

    • Just build support for Android app on it !!!

      Maemo/MeeGo has already had a small but dedicated following in europe. A small segment of the population appreciated a full equipped internet device running a full GNU/Linux stack.

      Now, the Android-specific kernel stuff have been backported into the main kernel tree, so it's possible to run android runtimes over a default kernel, so therefore including maemo if its copy of the kernel is a recent enough.

      So it should be possible to make a "GNU+Android"/Linux phone. T

      • thats not the issue. Kernel Asside, android still runs its own libraries, where maemo/meego run standard GNU and full "linux distribution" libraries.

        porting android kernel patches to mainstream linux, means using a mainstream kernel on android phones, or even running GNU on android.
      • It's called Alien Dalvik, and the video I remember seeing about it (a year or so ago, on Engadget, I think) showed it running Google apps like Google maps on N900.

        Sadly it was proprietary, and not for sale to ordinary customers (more to OEMs, I think)

    • There are precedents for a newcomer overwhelming the dominant player, or at least gaining significant marketshare, in a given software category. Android has surpassed iOS as the dominant smartphone OS in terms of total deployment. First released in 2004, Nginx gained significant marketshare against Apache, first released in 1995, and even IIS.
    • Their strongest arguments are native execution speed and full QT power. It might be enough to get them somewhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:52PM (#40577945)

    ... they would rather see you translate Jolla as "Lifeboat," rather than "Dinghy."

    • by westlake (615356)

      ... they would rather see you translate Jolla as "Lifeboat," rather than "Dinghy."

      "Lifeboat" tells me that your project is the Titanic and the ship is sinking.

    • by 2Y9D57 (988210)
      If they meant lifeboat, they would have called it 'pelastusvene'.
  • What does "Nokia" mean - "lie back and think of Finland"?

    • by Tancred (3904) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:08PM (#40578071)

      The company started as a pulp mill in 1865 in the city of Nokia, whose name might be from the word for sable, marten or beaver.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        The implication in the name of the creature seems to be that it had a soot-coloured (i.e. black) fur. The word "noki" means smut or soot.
        The town's emblem is this black creature:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia.vaakuna.svg

        If you're a Finn, or in Finland, then you might be interested in an exhibition in Vapriikki museum in Tampere which documents the history of Nokia very thoroughly. It's either just started, or will start soon. (Disclosure - I am not connected to it apart from the fact that they are
      • The company started as a pulp mill in 1865 in the city of Nokia...

        And pretty soon it will have to go back to being a pulp mill. It's just too bad nobody reads newspapers any more.

    • Nokia is the name of the city where the company was incorporated in 1871.

      As for the story... I've been waiting for this to happen. I'd love to see them succeed but I have very hard time imagining that it'll actually happen. I guess their best bet is staying afloat a while and hoping that Nokia decides to buy them back.

  • Chairs (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:00PM (#40578007)

    Over in Redmond, Washington, millions of chairs cried out in terror as a sweaty monkey realised that all that money he's spend was in vain.

  • by miknix (1047580) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:06PM (#40578055) Homepage

    If they start selling some phones, who else better than Nokia to buy the company?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      By the time they get their MeeGo phones to market? Probably as soon as the first phone sells.

  • long live the n900! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fikx (704101) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:27PM (#40578161) Journal
    Please please please please buy the IP on the n900 hardware...don't let such a good design vanish....
    • by Microlith (54737)

      The N900's only real stellar point is the slide mechanism for the keyboard. Mine's probably been opened and closed more than a thousand times in the last 2.5 years and it's still rock solid.

      The rest could be readily re-done, possibly thinner and better (see the N950.)

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        The rest could be readily re-done, possibly thinner and better (see the N950.)

        The N950 isn't better. One of the reasons Nokia choose not to market it directly to the public is that it is flimsy enough that carriers would be turned off by something guaranteed to raise a lot of support problems with customers.

        • by Microlith (54737)

          I think they chose not to market it directly to the public for other reasons. It was rejected by the carriers as being too flimsy, but I haven't heard anything about that despite knowing a lot of people with N950s who use them on a daily basis in lieu of their N900s.

          Moot point though. The problem there was the hinge. It was still thinner and larger.

      • by fikx (704101)
        I'd love an updated version of the n900: thinner, lighter, maybe bigger screen, but just tweaks to the original. A compass would be nice :) The n900 to me is a great piece of hardware. I've yet to see another phone that has all the features of the n900 so far. The n950 is close on features and functionality, I still prefer my n900.
        With Nokia abandoning both the hardware (see n950 as the new direction) and software, I was resigned to something less when my n900 gave out. But I still have hope!
    • by jonwil (467024)

      As an N900 user, I say they should NOT release another N900, they should release something that's like an N900 but BETTER.

      Re-design the USB port so it cant come loose and render the phone as good as dead. Improve the battery life. Give it an up-to-date browser and rendering engine. Have less closed-source software on the device (especially in the lower level libraries).

      Add a maps app with better (and more up-to-date) maps and better features (e.g. easy way to search for specific streets/landmarks/etc and ge

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Add a maps app with better (and more up-to-date) maps and better features (e.g. easy way to search for specific streets/landmarks/etc and get walking directions to that location)

        Not an official app, but the popular Mappero application for N900 does address searching and car/bicycle/foot routing.

  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:52PM (#40578283) Homepage

    ...my unreplaceable one-of-a-kind Nokia N900 becomes irreparable, to come up with a phone worthy as its successor. It seems pretty solid, so I'll give you a few years. (fingers crossed)

    The mobile market definitely needs a full gnu/linux phone. In fact, the N900 follows on from a privileged few mobile devices with desktop-like capability - the psion 3a, psion 5mx, Nokia 9500 communicator, Nokia E90 (only just). And it was only really the Psions that didn't shy from giving you the full OS experience just because it was a mobile device. Why can't my mobile device have a full fledged file-manager with drag-and-drop capability or a desktop where I can place regularly used files as well as applications?

    But maybe I'm mad - apparently you don't need these things on the desktop either.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "my unreplaceable one-of-a-kind Nokia N900 becomes irreparable"

      It's a tool. Buy spare(s)?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Those great people believe in bright future for MeeGo based phones. Microsoft also believed in bright future of MeeGo, so they spent billions of dollars to kill it. Windows phones are disaster: non-existant or buggy software (I can not download more than a dosen books on my new Windows phone - if I do that I have to reinstall Kindle App to get access to my books).

  • Hey, if a few former Fairchild Semiconductor employees can form Intel and go on to take over the world, I don't see any reason to doubt a bunch of former Nokia employees could have a big impact on the cell phone market. Of course the odds of any startup just avoiding liquidation are very slim, so I don't recomend sinking money into them, but this is a very fast moving, immature market, so there's huge potental there.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:41PM (#40578893) Homepage Journal

      Hey, if a few former Fairchild Semiconductor employees can form Intel and go on to take over the world, I don't see any reason to doubt a bunch of former Nokia employees could have a big impact on the cell phone market. Of course the odds of any startup just avoiding liquidation are very slim, so I don't recomend sinking money into them, but this is a very fast moving, immature market, so there's huge potental there.

      it's like the third offshoot from Nokia, that's aiming to make phones.

      Benefon actually made a lot of phones too(they were the first with tetris on a phone, first with t9, had dual sim phone ages ago and so forth), but their heyday went a decade ago.

      the question for this new venture is if they can scoop up enough money to actually produce the hw properly. there has been literally dozens of OS only producing companies which amounted to pretty much nothing.

      • by jonwil (467024)

        The biggest problem they will face is getting the hardware to run their new OS on, especially things like cellular chipsets.

  • From the financial chart [yahoo.com], it doesn't look as if the Nokia-Microsoft deal [networkworld.com] has produced much results. That a company would abandon its own OS in favor of a rival companies just beggers belief. Yet another case of death-by-microsoft?
    • by Naffer (720686)
      Their market share was in free-fall well before the Microsoft deal. Their own OS wasn't selling smartphones.
      • by dbIII (701233)
        Then it went into a power dive. Remember that they were still the number one supplier of handsets in the world the month Elop was brought in.
      • by symbolset (646467) *
        They were selling more phones then than now. A lot more.
      • Their market share was in free-fall well before the Microsoft deal.

        That is actually Microsoft spin and has been debunked.

  • I'm tired of all the little bugs I can't fix with my iPhone.
  • by hkultala (69204) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @11:29PM (#40579885)

    I'm a finn,so I know what "Jolla" means.

    Jolla means a very small sailing boat - not meant for rescue, but meant for people who want to go sailing alone on a very small boat.
    (who either cannot afford bigger boat or just likes very small boats)

    Jollas cant be used as rescue boats, they are too small for that.

  • Wide screen and physical keyboard with max freqencies so it can go on all mobile networks.

    And Debian underneath the interface.

  • To me the curious thing is that Nokia needs money and is selling off parts of itself. But not the Linux parts. Those it kills.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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