Jolla's Sailfish swims to market in India on $80 smartphones

The Finnish developer Jolla said its Sailfish OS has launched in India on phones manufactured by Intex Technologies.

Intex, which is based in New Delhi, has begun online sales of the $81 Aqua Fish, which is powered by Sailfish and features a 5-inch HD display. The launch marks the first licensing deal for Jolla, which finally closed on a $12 million funding round in May as it pivoted to the business model.

"We are very excited and proud to witness the launch of Aqua Fish, the first Sailfish OS powered smartphone licensed by a major device vendor," Jolla co-founder Sami Pienimaki said in a prepared statement. "With Intex Aqua Fish, smartphone lovers in India will get the possibility to experience a totally new, fast and smooth user experience, and run their favorite Android apps in a totally new environment."

Sailfish OS is a Linux-based platform that grew out of the MeeGo OS that Nokia abandoned a few years ago when it threw its weight behind Microsoft's Windows Phone. Jolla, which was founded by former Nokia employees, recently introduced a new handset and "community device program" to spur developer support for Sailfish. That handset is targeted directly at developers, though, and is available only in Europe.

Players such as Microsoft, BlackBerry and Ubuntu have struggled mightily in the era of the mass-market smartphone, and even in emerging markets there's scant evidence of demand for a third operating system to challenge Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Indeed, Intex launched India's first Firefox OS-based phone before Mozilla finally dropped support for its mobile platform.

But the smartphone market in India still teems with potential, and the Aqua Fish's rock-bottom price point might prove compelling to some users. If Jolla can gain even modest traction in India -- and if it can grow its developer community significantly -- it may be able to expand its licensing business for Sailfish to other markets.

For more:
- see this Jolla press release

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