September 2012: Interview with Jolla CEO Jussi Hurmola
Fresh off the press, after promising to interview Jussi Hurmola (CEO for Jolla Ltd), here is the transcript below which helps provide an up to date view of where Jolla are right now.
Q1: Hello Jussi, for those new to Jolla, can you briefly describe what Jolla is all about and your company ethos or motto ?
Jolla wants to bring the next step in user experience and enable an independent and open ecosystem as an alternative to the existing ones.
Q2: Being an avid user and huge fan of MeeGo, why do you think up to this point there has not been more interest in uptake of this amazing operating system (MeeGo) and how do you plan to improve upon what has already been done with the ecosystem to ensure MeeGo gets in to the hearts and minds of the consumer?
MeeGo benefits from new user interface, improved cross-platform compatibility and scalability over different product categories. It is difficult to say why no one took MeeGo to products. Maybe it required our experience of already doing it once to understand how easily you can make a brilliant product out of MeeGo.
Q3: The Linux foundation has always had this feeling of being the underdog that everyone wants to succeed (the peoples favourite if you like) over the former monopolies of the likes of Microsoft. Do you find any irony in the fact that Nokia who were once leading the open source Linux smartphone revolution are now in bed with a company (Microsoft) that represent the antithesis of what they (you) worked so hard on for so many years, and furthermore, the double irony that during this time, Nokia have been knocked from the top and are now considered the underdog smartphone maker against their immediate rivals ? As ex-Nokia employees, in retrospect, did this major internal shift of focus in fact have a positive effect in providing you with even more drive to need to make a future success out of MeeGo where Nokia failed to provide any continuation ?
Jolla is an independent company and we are grateful to Nokia that we managed to do N9, but now we are continuing on our own path and we are glad that we can continue working on the technology that was set up when MeeGo was led by Intel and Nokia. As a Finn and after having a great career of 12 years at Nokia, I hope that Nokia will find the means to be successful once more.
Q4: Were Jolla invited to the recent Nokia World 2012 event and what did you make of the event itself ? Will Jolla hold similar events for future releases and if so do you have any immediate plans or is perhaps a CES 2013 appearance on the cards ?
Jolla was not invited to the recent Nokia World 2012 event, but we are planning to hold our own events and joined relevant events – for example to launch our ecosystem, UI, product, partners etc. And we promise to have some fun with the community. We need to see about the big shows like CES and MWC – how they fit into our calendar and product schedules.
Q5: Nokia appear to now be on to better things with their latest windows phones incarnations (920/820) which show a lot of promise. Does this, and the fact that the smartphone market is generally very crowded, worry you at all being a relatively small player or are you quietly confident (please elaborate where possible) ?
The smartphone market is very competitive, but it’s also changing so fast that we believe we can enter it through the changes. We are small, but it makes us also fast, and we are a new player so we can bring new things to the market.
Q6: Google’s Android goes to show that a Linux based operating system can be very successful if not the most successful, how do you plan to differentiate and challenge Android as the biggest player in the OS game ?
We need to see where Google wants to take Android next. In the first phase, we are providing an independent alternative into which we are inviting our partners, business models and value add. We are not jealous of others using Jolla and MeeGo, and we are inviting other brands to Jolla devices.
Q7: It is clear with the many smartphone patent wars – most recently Apple Vs. Samsung – that Jolla will have to be very vigilant to avoid these kind of crippling legal situations. Do you feel that Apple were deserving of a victory in this case and moreso, how will Jolla be able to move forward with such restrictions at every corner potentially hindering the creative flow and energy of the company ?
I believe that we are in a very good position with MeeGo itself, and since we are making a new UX and not copying the existing ones, I think we will create our own IPR rather than license the existing. Of course we need to keep our eyes open to understand the existing IPR in this area.
Q8: With a new handset on the horizon and prototypes no doubt abound, there must be a real buzz within Jolla right now, how difficult is it to keep quiet about such developments and prevent leaks from happening ?
I trust that we will have no leaks. Everyone is committed inside Jolla, as well as our partners, but actually it’s very difficult to keep silent when I would really want to show everyone what we are working on.
Q9: Will your contract with China based retailer D.Phone have any exclusivity upon release of the first Jolla handset, and furthermore, when may we (in Europe and the rest of the world) expect to buy the finished product ?
We are a Finnish company, and it would be unnatural if we wouldn’t be in European markets. We will communicate the launch schedule later on.
Q10: Will Jolla be initially going with a one smartphone per year route, a strategy which has worked exceptionally well for the likes of Apple and if not what will be Jolla’s strategy in this regard ?
We are working on our first smartphone now, and we will learn from the feedback from that.
Q11: Assuming the future success of initial releases, can we expect Jolla to release devices other than smartphones eg. feature phones; tablets etc in future ?
The MeeGo based ecosystem is ready to support other product categories, and we are working with other companies to utilise MeeGo and Jolla software, but there is nothing to officially announce at the moment.
Q12: Finally, can you leak any snippets of information (be it large or small) on what we can expect with the finished Jolla handset ?
We are working with Joikusoft to do groundbreaking things in local area network.
Q13: Thank you so much for your time Jussi and long live Jolla!
Thanks for your support, we really appreciate it!