MeeGo’s ‘Saviour’ Heads To China: Jolla Signs Deal With Chinese Retailer D.Phone

Jolla Mobile — MeeGo’s saviour in the making — is certainly ambitious, perhaps insanely so. The Finnish startup made up of a crack team of ex-Nokians is already committed to release not one but two MeeGo-powered smartphones, launching a new handset brand along the way. It’s early days, of course, the company doesn’t even have its own website yet, but today news comes of a tie-up with Chinese mobile phone retailer D.Phone that begins to hint at how this might just work.

First announced via a tweet (what’s a startup to do without a website), Jolla has signed a ‘Sales and Distribution agreement’ with D.Phone Group, the largest mobile phone retail chain in China with 2,000 stores, targeting China’s 150 million-strong smartphone market which Jolla hopes to penetrate. D.Phone also works closely with carriers China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.

In a statement, Donghai Liu, Founder and CEO of D.Phone Group, makes specific mention of “Jolla’s fresh and unique user experience”, talking up the potential to “reach significant sales volumes”.

Meanwhile, Jolla’s Chairman, Dr. Antti Saarnio, notes that China has the “largest and most rapidly expanding smartphone market in the world” and that the deal with D.Phone represents “a major step in Jolla’s journey towards becoming a significant player in the global smartphone market”.

But canned statements aside, targeting China does seems like a smart move for Jolla, perhaps keeping it out of the way — for now — of the highly saturated and ultra competitive US and European markets where carriers are likely to be far less inclined to support another mobile OS/ecosystem. That said, this is a retail agreement not a direct carrier endorsement, and if Jolla is to ever become more than a feisty niche player or acquisition target, those mobile network subsidies will need to come sooner or later.