Mobile

Ex-Nokia guys start mystery company to build Linux-based phones

A six-man group of open-source diehards from Nokia have teamed up to form Jolla Mobile, a company focused on building phones using the Linux-based MeeGo operating system.

Rather, MeeGo will be a sort of jumping-off point. On its Twitter page, Jolla advisor and former MeeGo product manager Jukka Eklund wrote, “We are developing [our] own smartphone OS based on ‪MeeGo… our own UI… for new products.”

Jolla will soon be making announcements about its version of MeeGo as well as a brand new smartphone it’s bringing to market.

The company so far is composed of “N9 core professionals and MeeGo community alumni,” the page reads. While N9 folks will be at the helm, there is no intention to offer support for Nokia’s N9 smartphones — more on those later.

Leading the team is Marc Dillon, the principal engineer behind MeeGo at Nokia up until May 2012, according the group’s LinkedIn page, which has been disappearing and reappearing all morning.

Jolla also employs Marko Saukko, formerly a core maintainer for the Mer Project, a Linux distro for mobile devices. A few other MeeGo engineers and hardcore Linux enthusiasts round out the team.

MeeGo was built by a few of these guys along with some folks from Intel. However, the project clearly stagnated within Nokia, and the FOSSies behind it have decided to continue fighting the good (open-source mobile) fight elsewhere.

Eklund said that Jolla intends for its OS and apps — as well as possibly the device itself — to be open-sourced.

Eklund also revealed Jolla is making good use of Nokia’s Qt SDK, which can be used to create apps for Nokia N9 smartphones as well as desktop environments.

More details about Jolla’s OS and product should be available within the next few weeks, Eklund said. The company’s first release is still in development.

Although the startup is composed of former Nokia employees, Jolla is said to be working with Nokia on hiring issues so as to avoid triggering non-compete clauses in employees’ contracts.

Nokia’s N9 was announced just over one year ago. At that time, it was clear to our staff that the MeeGo-powered device was a side project for Nokia, which was primarily investing in a long-term relationship with Windows Phone. Because of that, we recognized the N9 was doomed from the start. In fact, the N9 was never released in North America at all.

Jolla Mobile was founded in the fall of 2011 and is based in Finland. The startup has taken funding from “international and domestic private investors.”

Top image courtesy of olly, Shutterstock

hat tip: The Verge

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