MastermindchairLast month I introduced you all to a friend of mine from The Symbian Foundation, Julien Fourgeaud, Roadmap Catalyst – Roadmap and Propositions.  Back then, I promised you an exclusive interview with Julien.  I did met up with him at Nokia World, but sadly due to meetings, and appointments, we didn’t get the chance to get together for an in-depth video interview as planned. 

We have both been so busy since Nokia World too, it’s been a mission to find the time to put together this interview for you all, with Julien jetting off around the world for various meetings, and events, the only time I have seen or heard from Julien was on Twitter when he was in-between airports and alike. 

I am however, really pleased to tell you, we have now, finally got an in-depth interview for you, but instead of the video interview, it’s in the form of a texted based Q&A, but I’m sure you will enjoy it all the same.  I wish to take this opportunity to thank Julien for his time on answering my questions for this interview; it’s really appreciated, and valued.  Ok, onto the interview, grab yourself a cuppa, and get yourself comfy, its a great read.! Click read More for the Nokia Users Exclusive.!

Q – Tell us a little bit about your background and what lead you to start working in the Mobile Phone Industry. Being as you’re originally from France, please share how you became to live, and work in Finland, then London.

A – Tough question, that I’d rather answer having a pint/soda at a pub than in written form. 🙂
But let’s give it a shot!

Amstrad_CPC_6128I guess the first step towards my existing career was Christmas 1988, when my family teamed up to get me an Amstrad CPC 6128.  I had discovered computers at school, using optical stylus to solve mazes and games. The CPC gave me a chance to play games, but also to learn about CP/M and Basic.

Things moved forward and in 1991 when we got our first PC at home. It was a 486SX 25MHz. Moving on to a 486DXII 66MHz, the SX became my playground.

Starting with Linux, a Slackware that I got in a magazine in 1995, I moved on to FreeBSD to settle down with Gentoo nowadays.

Getting access to Internet around 1994 gave me a chance to harvest the first websites, full of ASCII documents gathered from the BBS time.  Started to learn about Networks, Telecommunications and tons of Z ending domains.

Graduating from High School, with a Science diploma including Electronics and Computers, I moved to Paris.
There I attended Ecole Francaise d’Electronique et d’Informatique (EFREI). I participated and led few students’ clubs at our university, from training to electronic design.

19986110Being away from my parents and always on the move in Paris, a mobile phone made sense.  My first phone was a Nokia 6110 that I got for Christmas 1998.  Spent time playing with it, hacking it (changing operator logos, enabling the Field Test tools and more..).

Done with my main studies, I decided to spend my last year in an ERASMUS program in Finland.  Completing the program, I was offered a summer job in the Micro System Technology Lab of Tampere University of Technology (TUT).

Did a simple multiplexing system for practical experimentation labs. Was a good way to understand what the MST was doing and what I value I could bring.
Pasi Kallio, the head of MST, then offered me the opportunity to start a PhD on a topic that was dear to me: ‘Micro Sensor Networks to enable body awareness’.  We worked together for 3 years, produced various results, but had difficulties to gather funding for the project. It was probably too innovative, and too cheap…

That’s when I decided to move to the Industry. Found 3 interesting jobs at Nokia, which was next door to TUT. Applied, got 2 interviews and finally chose the Integration position.  It was for E-Series, and it was about diving in the software, the hardware but also keeping the consumer perspective.  I spent 2 years working on various projects/devices, developing my understanding of the technology as well as the business.

In the latest month, I had the chance to be part of the floor personnel at 2 major events (Mobile World Congress & CTIA).

An amazing opportunity where I got a chance to practice my PR skills as well as gather precious insight from the Industry.

This is where I met Anatolie Papas and Lee Williams, from the Symbian Foundation.  We had really interesting discussions around open source, technology, communities and so forth.
I got really interested in the possibilities offered by the Foundation, especially for the community.

We met again at Nokia’s Developer conference in Monaco and I got definitely inspired by Lee’s presentation.
Having working with 3rd party developers for the past 4 months, trying to bring as many as possible to the ROM of the N97, moving closer to them and enabling them to achieve more was definitely the right direction for me.
From there to my nomination in Symbian, it took 5 interviews and 4 months.  On the 28th of August, I was turning the page on 6 years of living in Finland and taking off to London.

Q – Some of us know you worked for Nokia before moving to your current position with the Symbian Foundation. What motivated you to leave Nokia, and make this move?

A – I think I already provided some elements in my previous answer.  Nokia is an amazing company, full of great individuals working together to achieve important goals.  Working with 3rd party developers, it became obvious that Nokia and other manufacturers would benefit from the Symbian Foundation.

I wanted to be part of that leading effort, and moving to the Foundation was a logical choice.  On top of that, it was time for me to discover new territories and build new relationships.
I keep really good memories from my time at Nokia, especially from my first team leader, Jukka Saari, and my first line manager Anne Blåfield.

Q – What are your personal thoughts on the future of The Symbian Foundation?

A – Becoming open source, but even better, open platform, there is no limits to the Symbian Platform.  The Foundation is there to support the community, to enable innovation and facilitate its integration.  I definitely see a bright future for both of them.  I wouldn’t be surprised that in the coming months, people realize the potential of the platform for other devices than just Mobile Devices.

Q – How are you finding your new role?

A – It has been really exciting. Being able to dive in the platform to extract and productize its value in the Roadmap has been an amazing learning experience.  Being able to create opportunities for our members, partners and anyone else in the community has been overwhelming, and there is more to come.

I also definitely enjoy the PR role, which gives me a chance to meet passionate people all around the world, bridging the gaps and building a truly global community.

Q – What Nokia handset/s do you currently carry with you?

N97A – Right now.. An N97 😉  Has been doing what I need it for: Web (Webkit+Opera), Twitter (Gravity), email, calendar, SMS, video calls, music and so on.  I used to be so geeky that I would always hack my devices, but now, my phone being a personal assistant, it’s got to work well for what it’s supposed to do.  Don’t have too much time for games, but love to listen to music when I commute, bit extreme sometimes on the bike, but good way to wake up 🙂

Q – What was your very first Nokia device?

A – A Nokia 6110. My dad got one from work and I would hog it every evening, until they teamed up with my grandparents and godmother to get me one for my 18th Christmas 🙂

Q – You obviously use Twitter, but which applications, Mobile, and Desktop do you prefer to use when using the Twitter Service?

A – Right now, Gravity on my mobile and TweetDeck on my Mac.  Love both apps, even if I don’t yet use 100% of their features.  And @Janole  is always coming up with new stuff, almost hard to follow!

Q – What would you like to see happen in the Mobile Industry in the near future? What changes would you personally like to see?

A – I think the most critical in the future will be Open Discussions.  Consumers have nowadays a chance to access an amazing amount of data on the Mobile Industry itself and its products.  Companies have started to open up and have been sharing more and more information, which is great.  I guess the next step is to make that a dual way street. That’s for the ‘ecosystem’ part.

When it comes to technology, more convergence, more interoperability between same and different type of devices.
I’d love to come home and not have to connect, install, reinstall, convert, transfer, erase, format.  Open standards, where contributors differentiate on something else than the lines of code, that’s what I’d like to see.

Q – What are your thoughts on the Maemo platform, and where do you think its heading in the future?

nokia-810A – As a geek, I’ve been playing with the N810 and planning on using it at home for small projects.  The Maemo community seems quite dynamic and that’s great.

When it comes to its future, I am not sure where it is heading.
One sure thing is that I’ll be following up, as I have been in the past couple years 🙂

Q – Impressions of Nokia World, in Stuttgart this year? Any surprises there for you this year?

A – Yes, quite many surprises, and not really on the technology part.  I was more surprise about the enthusiasm, the innovative messaging and the feeling in general.  Let it be from Nokia’s staff, or from the attendance, there was a pretty exciting frenzy and passion to innovate and push the boundaries together.
You could feel that Nokia is embracing the community.

Q – What do you think about products being leaked before launch? (I personally know how passionate you feel against this, but thought it an idea, and a chance for you to put across the ill-feelings involved when working on a device for several months or so, only for it to be leaked, and upset you).

A – Well.. I guess I have been pretty clear to the community on that topic.  As much as I understand that some people need to make money to live, I still have little respect for tabloids and yellow papers.  Think of an engineer/designer as an artist, someone who wants to achieve perfection, and wants to impress the world.  Would you spoil his work by showing it off to the world when half done?  I wouldn’t.

I kicked off an initiative, which needs a bit of follow up, around that topic. FairTech is a label, defined by the community and respected by the community.  It shows that the blogger, website, manufacturer, software developer, operator is engaged in an open dialogue to provide accurate, clear and precise information.  We had really good discussions around the topic at Nokia World and we need to kick the idea around with the community.

Q – Given the power, would you of changed anything in the N97’s hardware, and software before it going on sale, and if so, what exactly?

A – I think the N97 is already a pretty good machine.
I guess extending the RAM to 256MB would make it more comfortable to use, and adding hardware 3D acceleration would definitely help.  One of the advantages of Symbian, is the fact that it comes from an embedded system development, meaning that it can accommodate low resources, and supports optimizations.  So am looking forward to the V2.0 of the software.

Q – What are your favorite colour, sport, music, and TV programme?

A – Green, BASE Jumping, all kind of music, depends on the time/place/mood.  How I met your mother.

So there you have it, I really do hope you have enjoyed reading this exclusive interview on Nokiausers, it’s been an absolute pleasure to of been given the chance to interview Julien, and share his insights, passion, and background with you all.