After CeBIT in Germany, I went to Finland to meet a few of the very talented technology companies that this country has produced. In Helsinki, I met with Marc Dillon, CEO, Jolla, and one of the four co-founders of this startup which is building the next open source mobile OS, a.k.a. Sailfish.
At MWC 2013, Jolla launched its Sailfish SDK that was made available for download at sailfish.org. According to marc Dillon the first application was developed 30 minutes after the SDK was officially released, according to Marc Dillon.
Check the video demo of Sailfish above and the story behind it in the full article below.
After 11 years spent at Nokia, Marc Dillon left the mobile giant to continue the development of Meego under another name (Sailfish), a project that Nokia finally abandoned soon after deciding to adopt Windows Phone as its main OS for mobile in February 2011. Meego was started at Nokia as the OSSO project in 2006, then became Maemo, then Meego. As part of the Meego project, eight devices were created, including the N900 and the latest one, the N9, whose design inspired the current Nokia Lumia Series.
After finishing the N9, a few people at the management level with a strong experience in product development decided to leave Nokia and create their own company to make their own handsets by leveraging the Meego platform. The first employees were hired at Jolla in January 2012, and the company “started a culture of, basically, self-organized engineering, where there are minimal constraints on what it is required from people” said Marc Dillon, then he added: “we started on working on making our own products and today, we have developed 3 different business models, the first one is our own Jolla branded smartphone which will be starting to sell second half of 2013, the first market will be Finland, followed by China and then we will have some penetration in some Western markets, starting with Europe.”
As for the two other business models, according to Marc Dillon, Jolla is able to help other companies to make “tailored smartphones”, which means, for example, that you could have a “Foursquare phone” or a “Deezer phone” where every part of the phone would be integrated into either your Foursquare or your Deezer experience, meaning that all the core OS applications such as contact, maps, calendar, could become highly integrated with Foursquare or Deezer or any other application. For example, when you would open your contacts you could see where your friends have checked-in or what type of music they are sharing, similarly for the maps, you could see them directly there and start interact with your contacts from the map, for example. It is important to note that these are only examples that were made up by Marc Dillon at his keynote with Foursquare and Deezer at Mobile World Congress, and it does not mean that Jolla is working on making these products.
Basically, the idea is to “take down the existing walls that you have with Android or iOS, we could actually make a phone that is special for people who use Foursquare, and that would resonate with a lot of people. So, if those guys (Foursquare for example) would like to develop that type of phone we are the kind of company that could help them, because we spent our all lives in product integration and we know how to take raw materials and ideas and turn them into finished consumer products” said Marc Dillon. Then he added that a phone totally tailored to the user’s music experience would be another great example.
Knowing that the Facebook phone was so intensively rumored, before Marc Zuckerberg officially denied the rumors in January, we can imagine that this business model could make sense at some point, as long as the software offers flexible and easy to use privacy settings. We will see this morning at the Facebook event at its HQ in Menlo park whether the rumor is true or not.
We all know that the lion’s share of the current mobile business is basically divided between two operating systems and two large companies, with Apple and iOS on one side and Samsung and Android on the other side.
Marc Dillon believes that Apple, by building an app driven experience closed in an appstore sidetracked Google from its cloud-based experience strategy and forced the search giant to compete in the native application/online store space which does not offer a seamless experience when it comes to really share content between users.
According to Jolla’s CEO, any Android handset provides a similar experience as the next one, so it is time to offer more choices in the mobile market. During MWC, the main point that he was raising with developers was the fact that they “have more opportunities than just being an application in someone else grid.”
For instance, according to its CEO, Jolla is developing the right architecture to “break these walls” and is able to offer tailored mobile experiences and make them seamless. The company will be able to help manufacturers develop custom and flexible experiences deeply integrated at the OS level. Well, we have to wait and see if this is really true and if it will not create more fragmentation for app developers than it already exists on the Android market.
“Our third business models is the licensing of our Sailfish Operating System, once have come out with our flagship device, and basically shown the world that everything we have been talking about we are actually doing and it is a world class, unique and very different user experience, we will be able to license the Operating System for other manufacturers. Companies that right now have only an Android choice” said Marc Dillon
From the demo I saw in Helsinki, the user interface of Sailfish looks very intuitive and I know from testing Blackberry 10 OS that having many applications open as thumbnails on the home screen is the fastest and the easiest way to switch between them. Building a new and complex operating system and launching it in a market dominated by two big players is not an easy task, and I wish that Sailfish could find its way there.
You can get a bit more info on https://sailfishos.org/, please note that today it is down, probably for maintenance.