Jolla unveils first smartphone running Sailfish OS, targets 2013 launch

Finnish startup Jolla formally announced the first smartphone running its open-source Sailfish OS, hoping to spark interest in a the fledgling platform as it seeks to compete with goliaths like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in the growing smartphone market.

The smartphone, which will be called "Jolla," is expected to be available by end of 2013 depending on the market, and sales will start in Europe with more countries to follow. Those who pre-order will pay no more than €399 (about $513), including applicable taxes in Europe but excluding shipping costs, duties and any local taxes.

The gadget sports a 4.5-inch display, a dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera, LTE (in certain markets), removable colored casings, 16 GB of memory and a microSD slot. Jolla will be "compliant" with Android apps but it is not clear how many or if consumers will be able to download the apps from Google's Play store. Jolla had announced a chipset deal in November with ST-Ericsson, the joint venture that Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and STMicroelectronics agreed to shut down in March.

In an introduction video, Jolla co-founder Marc Dillon said it was an "honor" to introduce the first Jolla phone but pleaded with whoever was listening to spread the word about the platform to help it grow. "To make this really great, we need your help," he said. "Show that there is a market for Jolla by participating in in our pre-order campaign. Jolla is about participation and contribution also. So  if you're a blogger, please write about us. If you're an application developer, start creating Sailfish applications. If you're into design or fashion, start creating styles for Jolla. But most importantly Jolla is a movement. Join the tribe."

Sailfish, first announced in late 2011, is based on the open-source MeeGo platform, which combined Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) former Maemo platform with Intel's erstwhile Moblin efforts. Jolla has raised $258 million from a variety of telecommunications industry players to launch Sailfish, and it will distribute the OS to device manufacturers free of charge, generating revenue by licensing proprietary software features and from intellectual property rights.

Earlier this month Jolla appointed Tomi Pienimäki as its new CEO. Pienimäki previously served as CIO of Nordic logistics operator Itella Corporation, gaining experience in business management and steering large technology organizations. He replaced Dillon, who was appointed CEO in October 2012 as a replacement for original CEO Jussi Hurmola, who stepped down to focus on strategy and a role on the Jolla board of directors. Dillon now serves as Jolla's Head of Software Development.

Finnish operator DNA has signed on to sell and market Sailfish smartphones, and Jolla has said that other carrier deals are in the pipeline as well. Jolla has also launched the Sailfish Alliance, which unites OEM and ODM manufacturers, chipset providers, operators, application developers and retailers.

Nokia effectively halted its participation in the MeeGo project in early 2011 after inking a broad strategic partnership with Microsoft that positions the software maker's Windows Phone mobile operating system as Nokia's primary smartphone platform. Intel abandoned MeeGo a year ago, throwing its support behind Tizen, the Linux-based cross-architecture device software platform backed by the Linux Foundation and LiMo Foundation.

For more:
- see this Jolla site
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article
- see this TechCrunch article

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