Armed with Android app support, Jolla’s €399 phone launches by year-end

Jolla, the Finnish company that continued Nokia’s (s nok) work on the MeeGo mobile platform, announced details of its first smartphone on Monday. Availability for the Jolla device is expected by year end and can be pre-ordered now; the phone will be priced at no more than €399 (US $512.26). In a Kickstarter-like approach, pre-order packages also include options for Jolla T-shirts and rebate vouchers.

The Jolla hardware looks similar to that of Nokia’s Lumia, with a clean, button-less front face that houses the 4.5-inch touchcscreen. Jolla’s product page mentions “The Other Half”, which appears to be a removable back cover that comes in different colors, allowing for some device personalization. The phone will use a dual-core processor and support 4G LTE in some regions. Internal storage tops out at 16 GB, but can be expanded via microSD card. The phone also includes an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto focus.

Jolla is less about hardware, however. Jolla’s Sailfish software has roots in the old MeeGo platform that Nokia and Intel(s intc) created with their Maemo and Moblin projects. The operating system offers a multitasking style interface and supports apps written with the Qt framework. But the phone is also “Android(s goog) app compliant” which, in a move similar to that of BlackBerry(s bbry), can help with available apps at launch.

Jolla home screen

While I like the idea of Jolla — a community-based open-source smartphone approach — I think it will be extremely difficult for Jolla to gain serious traction in the marketplace. Handset and component makers already have several platforms to work with and the potential payback to invest efforts in Jolla is relatively small.

Credit to the Jolla folks though: Even as Android and iOS(s aapl) rule the smartphone markets, the little Davids are still willing to take on the Goliaths.