Finnish smartphone firm Jolla eyes broader Hutchison alliance

The smartphone start-up looks beyond HK dealto ride on Three brand in Asia and Europe

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 1:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 1:11am

Start-up Finnish smartphone developer Jolla is looking to forge a wider alliance with Hutchison Whampoa across the Hong Kong conglomerate's Three brand mobile network operations in Europe and Asia.

"The cooperation with Three is very important for us because it is a very strong player in Europe," Jolla co-founder and chairman Antti Saarnio told the South China Morning Post yesterday, before the Asian launch of the company's namesake 4G smartphone with Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong.

"We hope to cooperate also with Three in Europe. It will be very interesting and beneficial to expand together with the operator," Saarnio said.

Hutchison Whampoa, the flagship company of Li Ka-shing, holds a majority interest in Hutchison Telecom, which runs mobile networks in Hong Kong and Macau. The conglomerate's European mobile network operations are in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Austria.

It will be very … beneficial to expand together with the operator

Saarnio said Jolla has received inquiries about its smartphone's availability in other Asian markets like Indonesia, where Hutchison operates another Three-brand mobile network. Its other Asian mobile operations are in Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Jolla, which has its local office in Cyberport, is also in negotiations to sign up new strategic investors from Asia. "We've had discussions in Hong Kong and in [mainland] China, but we can't reveal anything," Saarnio said.

Founded by a group of ex-Nokia employees in 2011, Jolla develops smartphones designed for optimal use with one hand and running its own secure mobile operating system, called Sailfish OS, which is compatible with the more widely adopted Android operating system.

"We're working with our user community to make the user experience of the Sailfish OS and the Jolla smartphone effortless and distinct," Jolla co-founder and chief operating officer Marc Dillon said.

The company is also cooperating with various online applications stores around the world so that its smartphone users can seamlessly download and run Android apps. Popular apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Spotify and WeChat, the mobile messaging service of mainland internet giant Tencent, can all run directly on Sailfish OS. "We believe Jolla is an exciting option for tech-savvy smartphone users who are looking for a new and fresh mobile user experience," Hutchison Telecom chief operating officer Jennifer Tan Yuen-chun said yesterday.

Three Hong Kong is Jolla's first partner mobile operator in Asia.

Jolla will next introduce its smartphone in India through leading e-commerce provider Snapdeal, known as the "Alibaba of India".