The Jolla Phone

“This is almost exactly what I imagined the Nintendo phone would look like”, I thought when I came across the Jolla phone this morning in a Tech Crunch article. The same principles that inspired my “8-Bit Nintendo Phone” appeared to have driven the creators of the Jolla phone to design a product innovative in both its hardware and software alike. Unfortunately, this phone will not come to America for quite some time; however, based on the information available at the company’s home page, I formulated a few admittedly premature thoughts on this topic.

The first and single most advertised aspect of the Jolla phone is “the Other Half”, seemingly a glorified skin. Its simplicity, however, belies its true potential: “the Other Half” — heretofore referred to as simply “the case” — not only personalizes the phone’s exterior, but its interior as well. With each case the operating system’s color scheme changes to present a single, unified color pallet. In other words, an orange case means an orange operating system. The power of “the Other Half” is not limited to mere color schemes though: individual applications and data can be linked to each case, essentially creating a multi-user device where the cases are the username and password to each account. This hardware/software pairing, where a piece of hardware so significantly impacts the software experience, from the apps available to the system’s color scheme, is fascinating to me and perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Jolla phone.

Perhaps just as interesting though is Jolla as a company and Jolla the phone as an idea, and what the pair means to the smartphone industry. In the current Apple-Samsung duopoly, the entrance of a third player, albeit a small one, is interesting in and of itself. Combined with the innovative product that company is attempting to bring to the market though, that’s when things get interesting.

I’m less hopeful for Jolla’s prospects than I would be if it were Nintendo — especially Nintendo — bringing this phone to market, of that much I am sure. That’s not to say a small company can’t make some waves though, and that’s not to say Jolla can’t experience some level of success. After all, once upon a time Apple was a small company too. Jolla’s staff could take a lesson from Apple in at least one respect though: announcing the Jolla phone more than half a year before its launch date, Natasha Lomas of Tech Crunch made a good point in questioning whether or not the company would be able to sustain interest in their product. As enthusiastic as I am about the interesting innovations this phone is bringing to market, I can’t say even I will remember to check back in seven months.