Jolla Sailfish MWC 2014 (4)

MWC 2014: Finland Is Rooting For Jolla ‘Big Time’

Jolla co-founder Stefano Mosconi discusses platform’s future at MWC

On by Steve McCaskill 0

Jolla co-founder Stefano Mosconi is confident about the future of Sailfish OS and believes his company can carve out a niche in the smartphone market, with Finland desperate for it to succeed.

Mosconi revealed a number of details about Jolla’s plans for the future to TechWeekEurope at Mobile World Congress last week, saying that the launch of its debut smartphone was “going pretty well” and that Sailfish was ready for a full commercial launch.

“We removed the beta label because we think it’s ready,” he said, discussing the firm’s recent partnerships with F-Secure for cloud storage and a deal with Finnish developer Rovio for an exclusive Angry Birds­­-themed smart cover.

Smart cover hopes

Jolla Sailfish MWC 2014 (1)“We’re concentrating on making a phone that’s very good and giving a space to the customer,” he said. “We’re not only open in the sense of open source, but we’re also open for business.”

Smart covers form part of this business plan. Exclusive content, themes and other information can be stored on these covers, which are affixed to the rear of the device, and Jolla believes that brands who want to create their own smartphone, without spending millions of pounds, will be interested.

Jolla hopes that fans of Angry Birds, or a specific football team, would be attracted to the platform as a result, and Mosconi said that such customisation was not limited to businesses, stating that the Jolla was a “very hackable phone.”

The Jolla community has already created keyboard, OLED and wireless charging smart covers, and Mosconi is hoping for more.

“If you want do something cool, please do it,” he said.

Community

Since Sailfish is an open source platform, the community is “extremely important”, with supporters creating applications and getting the OS to run on Android devices. “It’s keeping us alive,” said Mosconi, adding that the ability to support Android applications, in addition to native apps, was vital for Sailfish’s chances of success.

“We have to support Android otherwise you wouldn’t have access to these apps. When we have users, the native applications will come.”

The community is also important in spreading the word about Jolla. Mosconi said the only major marketing expense it has undertaken was the stand at MWC which we were sitting at, and that it was using the event to try and secure more carrier deals, particularly in Russia, India and Hong Kong, while he said the UK was a possibility.

MWC and Future

Jolla’s only operator partnership is with Finnish network DNA, and Mosconi said that deal, along with its agreement with Rovio, was indicative of the level of support it commands in its homeland.

“Finland is rooting for us big time,” he said. “We’re a small company, we don’t need to sell a million devices per day to survive. Even with a niche market, it’s sufficient for us.”

Jolla Sailfish MWC 2014 (5)“Right now our limitation is capacity. Our sales guy can’t travel all the way around the world,” he reasoned, acknowledging that the  Jolla’s comparatively high price tag somewhat limited its appeal.

Jolla currently has no plans to release a cheaper model and although it has prototypes of Sailfish running on larger screens, a tablet is not in the firm’s immediate future.

“We’re concentrating on doing one thing well,” Mosconi said. “But we are considering bringing it to other form factors. Definitely.”

Competition

Such gaps in the market could be filled by other manufacturers using Sailfish OS and Mosconi is adamant that potential entrants will not be put off by Jolla’s current monopoly of the platform. He said Jolla’s ambition is to prove that a Sailfish smartphone can work in order to stimulate the ecosystem.

Sailfish OS is just one of a number of open source mobile phone operating systems hoping to establish itself as an alternative to Android, but he is keen to distance Jolla from its competitors, stating that Firefox OS is aimed at the lower end of the market, while Tizen has its own problems and has turned its attention to smartwatches for the time being.

“Making a smartphone is tough, it’s not easy at all,” he said. “Android has been there for a long time, iPhone has been there for a long time. There is a natural cycle in this industry and people are looking for something new.”

What do you know about MWC?

Steve McCaskill
Author: Steve McCaskill
Deputy Editor
Steve McCaskill Steve McCaskill
Techweekeurope for mobile devices
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