Jolla, the smartphone operating system start-up based on Nokia's discontinued MeeGo Linux-based operating system, will launch its new mobile phones before the end of the year, according to co-founder and CEO Jussi Hurmola.
Jolla was founded by former Nokia staff, many of whom had already worked on MeeGo before it was discontinued in February 2011 in favour of Windows Phone, licensed from Microsoft.
Jolla's founding staff have already been working on the project for a year, Hurmola told Computing. "In terms of phases, there's designing the device, marketing, manufacturing, building the eco-system. We are now at the first phase. We don't want to make any promises we cannot keep, but at the moment our story is that we will reveal the product later this year," said Hurmola.
The company's aim is to make both Jolla-branded devices – which will be produced by original design manufacturers (ODMs) – as well as co-branded devices, no doubt offered by mobile phone operators.
Hurmola also promised that MeeGo's technology would be as open as possible. "We want to be open... we want to contribute as much as possible to all upstream projects, that includes the Qt user interface framework, Mer and oFono, as well as MeeGo itself," said Hurmola. "We invite everybody who is interested to use these elements."
While MeeGo, like Google Android, is based on Linux, the open source operating system, it is more open. The framework components are all provided under licences certified by the Free Initiative, such as the GNU General Public Licence. Furthermore, the project's licence policy requires that MeeGo's reference user experience subsystems are also licensed under a permissive free software licence.
However, Jolla will provide its own proprietary interfaces to the phones that it plans to produce. "Maybe the biggest thing that we want to do ourselves is the user experience. So we are building this on top of MeeGo."
Going Android, which is also based on Linux but tightly controlled by Google, does not give phone manufacturers or operators the same kind of freedom to develop their own user interface "experience", said Hurmola.
While Nokia's highly regarded N9 MeeGo smartphone, which is currently on sale only in secondary markets, offers Facebook and Twitter apps, it lacks the kind of eco-system that Apple iOS and Google Android offers. However, because MeeGo is built upon the Linux kernel, most of the APIs, development tools and libraries available in Linux are also available in MeeGo.
That means an app eco-system could quickly develop if it gains traction.
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