MeeGo startup Jolla has just announced that its first smartphone will go on sale in Finland on November 27th. It will be sold by Finnish carrier DNA — the first carrier Jolla signed up to its Sailfish OS project, back in November last year.
The Finnish startup announced the news on stage at the Slush conference taking place in Helsinki this week. It said a pop-up DNA Kauppa shop will be selling its phones on Narinkkatori, central Helsinki, for a single evening — with the first batch consisting of just 450 phones — so this is something of a symbolic launch for the plucky startup that’s been talking about reviving MeeGo since July 2012.
The first Jolla phones will also be primarily sold to those who have made a pre-booking — which refers to the pre-sales campaign Jolla ran earlier this year, inviting would-be buyers to reserve a handset with a part-payment. Pre-bookers will be invited to the launch event to hand over the rest of the cash and walk away with their Sailfish-powered handset.
“Thousands” of Finns have pre-booked a Jolla phone, the startup said today. It has previously said its first pre-sales batch — which closed in August — consisted of up to 50,000 units, although it declined to put a specific figure on the batch.
Jolla phones will be available to others at DNA Kauppa outlets in early December, it added today. Other parts of Europe are likely to follow, according to Jolla’s Marc Dillon, although it’s not announcing other carrier partners as yet.
“Jolla has attracted an enormous amount of interest. Because the basic idea with Jolla is to develop the phone in co-creation spirit with the users, it seemed like the right thing to offer the first phones to those who had displayed an interest in them as soon as the first phones become available,” said DNA’s Business Director Cedric Kamtsan in a statement.
“DNA has been effectively collaborating with us by bringing in an important consumer perspective into the product development. As the first Jolla phone is about to be launched, everything is ready to make the consumers involved. The launch does not mark the end to product development, it goes on in cooperation with the consumers,” added Jolla’s CEO Tomi Pienimäki in a statement.
The first Jolla phone has a 4.5″ Estrade display, a dual-core chip, 4G, 16GB internal memory plus a microSD card slot, an 8MP auto focus camera, a user-replaceable battery and interchangeable backplates that can influence the UI’s look and feel. Jolla has previously said the handset will cost €399 — and Jolla’s Dillon confirmed that remains its price-tag now.
The startup, which is comprised of ex-Nokians who carried the MeeGo torch out of the building when Nokia decided to throw its all in with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, has always said it will prioritise its home market for the launch of its first device.
That said, China is also a strong focus for Jolla — which has set up an alliance to support its MeeGo-derived Sailfish OS in the region, and attracted backing to the tune of €200M from “leading industry players”.
Jolla has not specified who exactly is involved in the alliance, although a Hong Kong-based telecoms and mining firm, China Fortune, took a 6.25% stake in the startup back in February.
Asked about other investors, Dillon told TechCrunch: “There’s a lot of things that are going on here but we don’t have any new announcements.”
TechCrunch’s Kim-Mai Cutler, who is in Finland at the Slush conference, contributed to this article