Software

Meego, webOS, Sailfish OS, and now Firefox OS: Ex-Nokia man Jaaksi joins Mozilla

Finn named new boss of 'connected devices'

By Neil McAllister in San Francisco

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Mozilla has appointed ex-Nokia man Ari Jaaksi as its new senior veep of connected devices.

"In this role, Ari will be responsible for Firefox OS and broader exploration of opportunities to advance our mission across the ever-increasing range of connection points of the modern Internet, i.e. phones, TVs, [internet of things], etc," Mozilla CEO Chris Beard said in a blog post announcing the appointment.

Jaaksi most recently worked at Intel in its security division (the group formerly known as McAfee), but his pedigree in the mobile device world runs deeper than that.

He worked at Nokia for 12 years beginning in 1998, first as director of the Finnish firm's browser and tools division and later as vice president in charge of MeeGo, its homegrown mobile Linux distribution.

After Nokia he moved to HP, where he was a senior vice president in charge of the ill-fated webOS platform and its accompanying cloud services.

He has also held a seat on the board of Jolla, the company formed by ex-Nokia engineers that markets devices based on Sailfish OS, a derivative of MeeGo.

At Mozilla, Jaaksi will be in charge of yet another Linux-based mobile OS, in the form of Firefox OS, the platform the nonprofit has been pushing as an alternative to Android and iOS.

"We believe that building an open, independent alternative to proprietary, single-vendor platforms is critical to the future of a healthy mobile ecosystem," Beard wrote. "And it is core to our mission to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity in online life."

Firefox OS hasn't exactly been a rampaging success so far, being relegated mostly to cheap, low-powered handsets targeted at emerging markets. In 2014, Mozilla said it was hoping to push the price of an entry-level smartphone as low as $25.

It has lately rethought that strategy, though – perhaps due to competition from Asian suppliers pushing cut-rate Android phones – and now says its goal is to "build the ultimate phone experience for the hundreds of millions of people who love Firefox, who care about having a secure, trusted, independent alternative that is hackable, customizable, and powerful as an open platform for innovation."

Jaaksi will lead the charge in that effort beginning next month. ®

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