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Emblaze Mobile's ex-CEO: First Else was eventually ready but the market had changed

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We were rather heartbroken when Emblaze Mobile announced the premature death of its First Else project back in June 2010, with the culprit being "critical delays in deliveries;" so when we caught up with ex-CEO Amir Kupervas -- who's now running a startup called UIU -- at MWC, we had to see if he had anything to add to the sad story. "It was ambitious for a small Israeli company to come into consumer electronics, build a brand and try to push it," Kupervas emphasized. "When we started this project it wasn't about ecosystem and apps and things like that. Eventually the iPhone came with its app store, and then Android came with its app store, and we were left behind."

To our surprise, Kupervas told us that the First Else was eventually ready and he even had two customers, but by that point it was too late and "it didn't feel right" to launch the comparatively limited phone, despite its great user experience. That said, Kupervas didn't go into detail regarding the delays. "It's not about management issue. It's more about time-to-market of the product. It took us a bit longer than we expected and anticipated," Kupervas said. "The channels (mobile operators and so on)... then already had Android and the iPhone, and all of a sudden there was another operating system (Else Intuition) that they needed to integrate and work with. It was complex for them and for us as well."

Strictly speaking, the Access Linux Platform-based First Else was also trying to establish its own ecosystem with, for instance, a carrier-billing-enabled media store, but it was otherwise a closed environment. Kupervas realized that despite the services bundled with the phone, the device needed more. "The user wasn't able to download this bank application or voice navigation application. We needed to start pushing and bringing in developers, and bigger players than us like Nokia and Microsoft are struggling with this." Ouch.

Despite having left Emblaze Mobile, Kupervas said there's no reason for his ex-company to not implement the Else Intuition UX on Android, but neither did he know if it was doing anything with the asset other than lazily waiting for some licensees -- which we highly doubt there would be any takers at this point. For us mere mortals, we'd be happy enough to just get hold of a First Else to play with for nostalgia's sake.

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