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5/20/2013
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Jolla Debuts Smartphone With Sailfish OS

Group of former Nokia employees have developed a new smartphone that will run Android apps.

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Jolla finally got around to announcing its first smartphone today, months behind schedule. The company had expected to deliver its first device to the market by the end of the second quarter of the year. Though Jolla announced the new device today, it isn't expected to ship until the end of 2013.

The new smartphone, simply called the Jolla, is the first effort from a small Finnish company formed by ex-Nokia employees who were bent out of shape about Nokia's plans to ditch its Meego platform for Windows Phone. Meego, Nokia's blend of the Maemo and Moblin Linux platforms, runs on the Nokia N9, which is the one and only device from Nokia to run the operating system. Nokia has since abandoned both Meego and the N9.

Formed in July 2012, Jolla is staffed by directors, engineers and core professionals from Nokia's former Meego N9 team. It is backed by venture capitalists. At the time of its 2012 launch, Jolla's employees had been working on the operating system since late 2011. They added their own Mer Core and Qt (development platforms) to help speed up Meego's evolution. Though the new phone is based on the remnants of Meego, the operating system now has a new name: Sailfish.

[ Meanwhile, Nokia lightens up its smartphone design. Read Lumia 925 Trades Metal For Plastic. ]

Sailfish was designed to be a modern, touch-based operating system with a friendly, easy-to-use interface. It can run on low-end and high-end hardware. The company released a video detailing Sailfish in late 2012, which depicted the UI with cards and swiping gestures that will look familiar to anyone who used Palm's webOS platform. The cards are used to manage the home screen, apps and multitasking. The company enlisted ST-Ericsson to make chips for the device and scored support from Finnish carrier DNA, which agreed to sell Sailfish-based phones.

The Jolla's spec list reads like that of a typical mid-range Android smartphone: It features a 4.5-inch screen, believed to be 1280 x 720p HD, has a dual-core processor of unknown make, and it will support LTE 4G networks. It includes an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus, microSD cards for expandable memory, removable batteries and interchangeable shells for device personalization.

Jolla said the device will run Android applications but didn't specify how -- so there's no word if they'll run in an emulator or will be supported natively by the operating system. One thing is certain: the people at Jolla are smart enough to know that they need apps to compete in today's smartphone market. Without the ability to run numerous Android (or other) apps, it's a safe bet that Jolla would see little uptake from consumers.

Jolla hopes that its device will serve as an alternative for carriers that want to offer something other than Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone. The Jolla will cost 399 euros and will reach stores by the end of the year.

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