After introducing its phone and operating system, Jolla is now about to provide the users of Android phones with an easy opportunity to try out the Jolla user interface. Based in Tampere, Finland, the company has been going strong for three years and is still fuelled by the early enthusiasm.
Jolla's co-founder and chief marketing officer Sami Pienimäki arrives at the interview fresh from the train. He spent the journey from Helsinki to Tampere working, and the walk from the railway station to Jolla’s Tampere office took four minutes. Pienimäki puts some Jolla phones on the table, admitting that there is reason to be proud of them.
– These were created by Finns in a situation where even big players fall, Pienimäki notes.
Jolla Ltd. develops mobile devices and Sailfish OS, the open mobile operating system built on the heritage of MeeGo. The company has its roots in Tampere, Finland. It was born in 2011 amidst Nokia’s big structural change, when Jolla’s founders wanted to start developing their own company concentrating on open innovation in the mobile space. The first three years have been full of action – and enthusiasm.
– All in all, mobile development is like the Formula 1 of software development: fast and dynamic. It is inspiring, and we can respond to challenges quickly, Pienimäki says.
Pienimäki spends a lot of time on the train between Helsinki and Tampere, Jolla’s two Finnish offices. Jolla has more than 40 product development employees in Tampere, and even though the company is strongly heading abroad, to the Asian market in particular, it wants to retain its domestic operations.
– Here in Tampere, we have a good environment at the right cost, and skilled personnel are easy to obtain and keep, says Pienimäki, listing the benefits.
Jolla values its personnel, since the entire company is built on know-how. The company currently employs 125 people. The company developed its own smartphone, but the majority of the investments are being made in the operating system, user interface and applications.
– Our software uses open source code, but there are 25 million lines of it. We started off having the understanding of the code between the ears of Jolla’s key people, and this is something no other companies have, Pienimäki says.
The first Jolla phones were introduced to the Finnish market in late 2013, and Sailfish OS has seen some hectic development work.
The company is now working on Jolla Launcher, which will give Android users an easy opportunity to try out the Sailfish OS experience. Having been alfa-tested by a group of expert users during the summer, Jolla Launcher will soon become available to an increasing group of smartphone users.
– Jolla Launcher will become available for free, and the intention is to make it a good promotional tool for us. When those interested in the Jolla user interface can easily test it with any Android phone, they may very well get themselves a Jolla phone in future, Pienimäki says.
Not all Pienimäki’s journeys are made on the train. Within a year, he has had almost 250 travel days to destinations like Russia, India and Hong Kong. Jolla has an office in Hong Kong, a good stepping stone to the Chinese market. Jolla phones are now sold by a large operator in Hong Kong, which is helping arouse interest in China.
– The Chinese value European and Finnish design, so we are sticking to it. On the other hand, the Chinese want to use local services on their smartphones, so we must be able to offer these, Pienimäki says.
Jolla’s development work is based on combining Finnish design with natural usability and data security.
– The key thing with this phone is that the user is independent and gets to decide what to do with the device. For example, the phone does not share the user’s information with third parties, but supports Android applications, because people want to tweet, chat on Facebook and so on, Pienimäki says.
– Jolla website at http://jolla.com
– Jolla featured in the Business and Research Directory of the Tampere Business Region