David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Severed from Nokia, Ex-Employees Launch Bifurcated Smartphone

Jolla Mobile, formed by Nokia refugees, launches a phone with interchangable back panels and the Sailfish OS.

  • May 21, 2013

Almost one year after Nokia’s bloodletting, in which it cut 10,000 jobs and closed research and manufacturing facilities (see “Nokia Forced to Take Drastic Measures”), we’re starting to see new fruits of the startup culture that rose from the wreckage.

Jolla Mobile's New Phone

TodayᅠJolla Mobile, a Helsinki startup led by former Nokia employees, launched a smartphone whose major distinguishing feature is that breaks in half like an Oreo. The front side holds the usual computing guts and the screen. The back panel can bereplaced new ones reprogram the phone for different roles (such as business versus personal) or to add a wireless charging pad. The company is counting on app writers to think up new uses for the back-panel swap-out. It can change “colors, fonts, tones, profiles, functionalities all will adapt just as you wish by simply uniting the halves,” the company says.

Nokia had cut 3,700 jobs in Finland but helped ex-employees launch at least 200 startups, including Jolla Mobile. The phone runs on an all-new operating system called Sailfish, an evolved version of Nokia’s original mobile OS, MeeGo. (MeeGo was shelved after Nokia embraced Microsoft and its Windows Phone operating system.).ᅠBut Sailfish bears some similarities to Windows Phone, including square panels on the home screen that show applications such as news, weather, or e-mail. You can see more here.

Last year the prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, said such startups are a “lifeline to the future” for Finland. Of course, for Jolla Mobile to fulfill that promise, it will need the usual things to get off the ground, such as interesting new apps.ᅠAnd customers. If enough of the latter sign up, the company might start manufacturing the phone later this year, and selling it for close to $500.

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