Florida-headquartered Magic Leap has set up a company in Helsinki to gain access to Finland’s vast, Nokia- and gaming-driven reservoir of VR and AR talent. In July, Magic Leap registered a company in Helsinki with CFO Scott Henry as the chairman of the board. The company did not return my request for a comment. The Finnish VR and AR companies I spoke with would not confirm or deny… Read More
Make way for robot! Two driverless buses will be hitting the streets in Helsinki for some real-world testing for the next month or so. The EasyMile minibuses have previously been tested on public roads in Finland and elsewhere, but this is the first time they’ll be mixing it up with everyday traffic there. Read More
Nokia’s turmoils, and subsequent mass layoffs, have freed up plenty of smart people in the Finnish workforce to do their own thing. Rovio with Angry Birds, Jolla with Sailfish and now Adaia. The 16-person startup, led by former Nokia employee Heikki Sarajärvi, has revealed that it plans to launch a range of premium Android handsets at some point in 2014 in the US, UK and of course Finland. By premium, we’re looking at anywhere between $1,300 to $6,500, in return for the promise of extra ruggedness and durability as well as potential satellite connectivity. Why Android? Heikki says “there is no alternative”, something we assume Stephen Elop would strongly disagree with.
While there are no pictures to share today, local publication Digitoday got a chance to play with a prototype. They say the phone has a 4.8 inch screen and features the ability to hot-swap batteries without needing to turn the device off, though admittedly that hasn’t been fully ironed out yet. One thing that might potentially turn some people off, aside from the exorbitant price, is the phone’s weight — final units are estimated to come in at between 240 and 250 grams, which is 60 grams heavier than even Nokia’s tank-like Lumia 920. We’ve reached out to Adaia to request pictures and find out what all that bulk consists of.
Filed under: Cellphones
Not content with following Nokia’s past playbook, by saturating the mobile market with countless iterations of its smartphone hardware, pushing a whole Galaxy of gizmos at every price point and form-factor fancy you can think of, Samsung has gone one further. It’s opened an R&D centre in Espoo, Finland, right on Nokia’s doorstep. Literally on Nokia’s doorstep. If you were in any doubt that Samsung is the new Nokia, this really has to be the final call.
Samsung said the R&D facility, its first in Northern Europe, is being located in Finland because of “the excellent technology development eco-system in Finland”. Which is basically another way of saying ‘thanks to Nokia, and the tech skills of the local people who likely acquired them working at or with Nokia at some point over the past several decades’. Nokia’s presence in Finland has helped build a thriving startup culture, thanks to the pool of local tech skills and experience but also as Nokia has had to reduce its own headcount it has actively encouraged entrepreneurship through its Bridge Programme by supporting former employees leaving to found their own startups. The irony now is that Samsung is looking to tap into an ecosystem Nokia has been helping to build up.
The R&D center — which is part of Samsung’s strategy of ramping up spending in this area this year, up from the circa $10 billion it spent on R&D activities last year — will focus specifically on development of open source software and “advanced technologies in the domains of graphics, web & security for digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, Digital TV and PCs”.
Another irony here is that as Samsung has gobbled up the marketshare Nokia used to own, the Finnish former phone giant has been forced to pull in its horns – to operate with far fewer resources than it had during its mobile heyday (when it too could produce a phone for every price-point and pocket) — thereby limiting the types of devices it can push into. Which in turn leaves room for a company like Samsung to target more development cash at other device type categories, like tablets, a category where Nokia used to play. In a sense, Samsung is just expanding into the footprints of Nokia’s past success.
Samsung said it plans to recruit at least 50 experts in the various technical domains that the R&D center will focus on in the coming years. It also plans to “steadily grow” the facility, pushing research into whatever tech areas it decides it needs to down the line.
As well as thumbing its nose at Nokia by tapping into local Finnish talent, siting an R&D Center in Northern Europe will give Korea-based Samsung a base to plug into a regional network of research and academic organisations, as well as getting close to European startups and businesses.
Europe has been a stronghold for Samsung smartphone hardware, so building closer ties to the region makes sense to futureproof its lead here. A lead Nokia has been trying to dent with its Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones. Evidence of a slight uplift in sales for Windows Phone in markets such as the U.K. may be another factor pushing Samsung to drive deeper into Nokia’s territory — hence its stated intention now, with the Espoo Centre, to “actively build relationships and co-develop cutting edge technologies with our Finnish partners”.
Jolla recently revealed its first phone, and now Finland-based carrier DNA has confirmed it will be the first operator in the world to offer the self-titled handset. Running the Sailfish operating system, these devices continue on a path blazed by Meego while also promising Android app compatibility out of the box. The Jolla phone features 4.5-inch “HD” display, dual-core CPU, 16GB storage with microSD expansion slot, LTE and an 8MP rear camera. Our hands-on demo should reveal a bit more about what it’s bringing to the table (including an interesting split design that could allow future hardware augmentation), interested local residents can hit the source link to pre-order one now.
Google has just secured the services of an entire 72MW wind farm in Maevaara, Sweden for the next ten years to keep its Finnish data center humming, according to the official blog. It brokered the deal through German insurer Allianz, which purchased the farm and will begin selling all the electricity it produces to Mountain View by 2015. The move is part of Google’s quest to remain carbon neutral, and is along similar lines to a recent deal which saw the search giant purchase 48MW of energy from a wind farm in Oklahoma. The news follows Apple’s announcement that it gets 75 percent of its power from renewable sources — showing the arch-foes can at least agree on something.
Earlier today, we learned that Samsung had bested Nokia on its home turf by claiming the lion’s share of phone sales in Finland last quarter, but its invasion of Nokia’s territory won’t end there. Samsung will soon unveil a new research hub in Espoo, Finland, and a company rep confirmed that the center will open its doors on June 13th. Though specifics about the nature of research are being kept under wraps, a recent job posting from Oikotie revealed what could be the center’s name: Samsung Electronics Research Institute. SERI could potentially be related to Samsung’s partnership with Finland’s VTT Technical Research Center, announced last month, to explore energy efficient technologies. Beyond that, details are sparse, but we’ll keep you posted as more information on Samsung’s latest R&D endeavor trickles in.