Jolla sees Sailfish transcending smartphones

BARCELONA, Spain - Jolla, the Finnish handset manufacturer, marked the start of shipments of its first smartphone with its biggest ever presence at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona this week.

The company, founded by former Nokia employees, announced the global launch of the Jolla smartphone that first shipped in Europe and Norway in December. However, COO and co-founder Marc Dillon explained in an interview with FierceWireless:Europe that the team's ambitions go beyond merely creating smartphones.

"We're also launching Sailfish for everyone, which is allowing us to extend the reach of Sailfish so that people can put it on other devices," Dillon said, referring to Jolla's operating system, which is an evolution of the MeeGo software that was first developed by Nokia and Intel.

Sailfish is compatible with Google's market-leading Android OS, meaning it will "run on any device that came preloaded with Android…[and] run practically natively on our device," Dillon said.

The Jolla co-founder explained that limitations on Android mean it is better for Jolla to use its own software rather than launch a smartphone running the Google platform alone.

"Android is not very open. They are actually just providing code drops with irregular frequency for every release, so for a partner to be able to reintegrate whatever their changes are is very difficult…[W]e actually provide a full platform for innovation both in hardware and software. We allow innovation through the whole software stack."

Dillon cited co-creation partnerships with clothing company Makia, games developer Rovio, and security firm F-Secure, which were unveiled on the eve of MWC, as examples of how the company aids innovation. "We enable other brands and other companies to use our platform to actually leverage their businesses as well," he said.

The open approach and MeeGo heritage also hold the key to future differentiation between Jolla products and other smart devices, Dillon explained. The idea behind MeeGo was that it is able to run on "very small-scale devices, or small level of processor, up to very high end devices," he said, noting that means Sailfish is "already able to go to things like watches, or to televisions, or in the vehicle."

In short, the company's software can be used for more than just smartphones, which opens the door to a wider market than mobile phones.

Differentiation in the smartphone market today typically relies on "adding additional processor cores or something that's flashy about the device," Dillon noted.

In contrast, Jolla's 'open' mantra will enable other companies--such as mobile operators or high-street retailers--to leverage its Sailfish OS "to create new services and new commerce," he added.

For more:
- see Jolla's Sailfish announcement
- see the company's Rovio and Makia press release
- see the F-Secure announcement

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