I was born the son of a talented architect in bustling San Diego, California. But after the usual brief incubation period, I truly started life in nearby La Jolla (La Hoya), a smaller, sleepier town of dreamers and sailors. Thus I find it fitting as a former Maemo product engineer to have at least a tenuous lifeline to an emergent visionary mobile venture in Finland: Jolla (Yolla).
In the native tongue the name means “dinghy”, a not-so-subtle jab at Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s infamously-misguided “burning platform” call to arms in 2011. Recent escapees from Nokia’s aborted open source adventure announced on Saturday their intention of picking up where Nokia had decided to leave off. Yes, they are promising a MeeGo phone.
How ironic that this announcement comes so soon after I mused on the Maemo/MeeGo topic a few days ago (quickly followed by Henri Bergius’ much more detailed story), especially since I expressed faint hope for a spinoff. I don’t know yet if this venture has the blessing of Nokia and/or the Linux Foundation; dare we dream?
On that note, Henri’s poetic title (“The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora”) truly summarizes the foggy limbo of MeeGo contributors: official Nokia updates and a Tizen spinoff notwithstanding, the community established around Maemo and then MeeGo have found themselves somewhat adrift the past year or so, many eagerly scanning the mobile horizon for something similar.
And there have been related projects. OpenMoko persists, and more recently, Mozilla’s Firefox OS looks to have legs as well. But it’s the community-based Mer that’s provided an irresistible pull for many Maemo/MeeGo expatriots, so it’s pleasing for me to learn that Jolla will be working with that project.
Many other details remain undisclosed, and in their absence rumors naturally fly. Some speculate that this was a way for Nokia to continue work on open source projects, discreetly, while still remaining true to their problematic Microsoft commitments. While that’s certainly possible, and similar moves have happened before with other companies, there’s no indication now that this is actually the case with Jolla. Patiently waiting for further news may be difficult for eager community members but it makes the most sense for now.
I’m going to admit to being excited over this venture even without knowing more. Along with related efforts like CloudBerryTec, we’re seeing the conviction and passion of visionary ex-Nokians who refuse to let the open mobile dream die. The amazing follower buildup for Jolla’s twitter account is at least one testament that there remains a highly interested (and possibly desperate) community, and the media has been exhibiting similar curiosity.
We’ll definitely be following closely as well!