Americans who have been cut loose from their jobs have likely never experienced a layoff like they do in Finland. Nokia, which is consolidating its workforce as it shrinks in scope, has been extremely generous in letting people go, even to the point of helping set up a competitor.
Nokia often tried to help furloughed employees find their next job, and in some cases, people went straight to a new job without any interruption. The thousands of Symbian developers moved to Accenture alone. Or, Nokia would let small teams get a loan to start up a new business.
Nokia isn’t just shedding employees, it’s also dropping operating systems. One of these is MeeGo, which the company put on just a handful of devices before dropping it in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
Four departing Nokia staffers working on the MeeGo project took a loan from their former employer and teamed up to start their own company, Jolla Mobile, to continue MeeGo development for Nokia phones. They scored 100,000 Euros total from Nokia and have a staff of 50, all ex-Nokia, working on their project.
Jolla’s staff is working come from Nokia’s smartphone group where they worked on MeeGo and its predecessor, Maemo. This group will take the Nokia N9 phone — the forerunner of the Lumia 900 that runs Windows Phone — and build something new from that technology.
The company doesn’t even have a Web site yet. Its mission statement, posted on LinkedIn, says “Nokia created something wonderful – the world’s best smartphone product. It deserves to be continued, and we will do that together with all the bright and gifted people contributing to the MeeGo success story.”
The company added in a statement that “together with international private investors and partners, a new smartphone using this MeeGo based OS will be revealed later this year.” The company already has its first customer: L D.Phone, China’s largest smartphone retailer.
But with BlackBerry imploding, Windows Phone stalled out of the gate, and the world seeming to consolidate around Android and iOS, Jolla faces a huge uphill battle, argues Jack Gold, president of J.Gold Associates, a mobile market research firm.
Intel, which has some involvement in MeeGo development, declined to comment on Jolla.
“The only chance they got with MeeGo is in very niche environments if they do a special device or put it in a car. No one is going to look at yet another phone OS in any seriousness. Who’s going to build handsets around them? MeeGo when it was Nokia and Intel pushing it couldn’t make it,” he points out.
Gold said he understands why they are doing it, but this project won’t have any major tailwind without handsets and carriers.