Sailfish is sailing. Finland-based start-up Jolla is accepting pre-orders for its first smartphone product, which is also the first to use the Sailfish mobile operating system.
The Sailfish OS is derived from the Mer Project, which itself is an offshoot of the now-abandoned MeeGo OS that was jointly developed by Nokia and Intel. Jolla was founded by former Nokia employees. The Jolla device has a dual-core processor, 16 GB built-in storage, a microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel camera, LTE connectivity and a 4.5-inch display. The Jolla device, which currently goes only by the company's name, can run existing Android apps.
In its initial roll-out, the new phone will be available in fourth quarter in Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, the U.K., Spain and Italy, at 399 euros, or about U.S. $510, before carrier subsidies, although pre-orders come with a discount of 100 euros.
One of the new device's differentiators is a smartphone cover that's embedded with a chip and available to pre-ordering buyers. Called the OtherHalf, the chip in the cover is intended to allow software customization, such as a key to unlock special content or a customized user experience provided by musicians or app developers, including limited editions. The back cover also comes in different colors, allowing for some partial color customization of the device.
Jolla has said that it will use the cover as part of a "co-creation" campaign, in which it will invite the user community to decide how the cover and the chip should be designed and used.
The screen interface shows thumbnails of opened apps on the home screen, with features accessible via side-to-side scrolling, and what the company described as "true multitasking," such as running a video in one portion of the screen while you're working on an app in another portion.
Symbian 'Moving Out'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that there are several new mobile OSes, including Nokia's Asha, Mozilla's Firefox OS and Samsung's Tizen.
One of the keys to making this strategy work, he said, is distribution. "But is retail distribution enough?" he asked, before adding that he was skeptical. Another question, Greengart said, is whether consumers will "look for a known ecosystem of apps," which Sailfish has in the form of Android apps that it can run but not yet as native, Sailfish-tailored apps.
Greengart also noted that, in emerging markets, new smartphone platforms are based on "feature phones moving up and Nokia's Symbian phones moving out." Nokia, now in an alliance with Microsoft in support of Windows Phone, is phasing out its Symbian-based phones.
Industry research firm IDC, which is not tracking Sailfish or Canonical's Ubuntu emerging multi-platform OS, has estimated that Firefox OS and Tizen will have less than a 5 percent worldwide market share within five years.