Jolla, the Finnish startup that’s aiming to build a mobile ecosystem around its MeeGo-based OS, Sailfish, has announced the Sailfish OS is now compatible with the Android ecosystem — on both a hardware and a software level.
Incorporating support for Android apps was always on Jolla’s roadmap but today it’s confirmed that Android apps can now run directly on Sailfish without any modifications — crossing off a key requirement as it tries to establish its platform ahead of launching its own hardware starting in Q4.
Jolla has also confirmed Sailfish is now compatible with Android hardware — noting specifically it’s able “to run on common hardware produced for Android, particularly smartphones and tablets”.
On the hardware side, the startup is likely hoping to encourage Chinese OEMs, which are already churning out Android devices by the truck-load, to add a Sailfish line to their range with minimal effort required in terms of tweaking the hardware to run another OS. Piggybacking on Android OEMs is a neat way to lower the barrier to entry for Sailfish device-makers.
Vendors interested to utilize Sailfish OS are now able to develop phones and tablets based on many different chipset and hardware configurations. This new level of compatibility will enable device vendors who use Sailfish OS to fully utilize the existing Android hardware ecosystem.
On the software side, trying to get consumers’ attention in an industry so dominated by Google and Apple is a very big ask — see Microsoft’s Windows Phone, for example — which explains Jolla’s thinking in building in Android app support. It wants developers to build native Sailfish apps too but supporting Android apps means users of its hardware don’t have to wait around to get flagship pieces of software.
Jolla’s CEO Tomi Pienimäki specifically flagged up Instagram, WhatsApp, Spotify and Chinese messaging app WeChat in a statement as “popular apps” that will run on Sailfish from the get-go. By contrast, Windows Phone is still waiting for Instagram to be ported over.
Sailfish OS users “will be able to take full advantage of the Android application ecosystem available through various app stores globally”, Jolla said today, adding: “Jolla will co-operate with leading global app stores to ensure users can seamlessly download Android apps just as they would do on any Android device.”
Also today, the startup said it plans to kick off another pre-sales campaign for its forthcoming smartphone — the €399 handset with the customisable rear, revealed back in May — after closing out its initial pre-order run last month, with up to 50,000 units booked.
It appears that Jolla — which is largely comprised of ex-Nokians, who worked on the MeeGo-based N9 prior to Nokia’s switch to Windows Phone — is hoping to capitalise on anti-Microsoft sentiment in Finland, following the news (earlier this month) that Nokia will be exiting the mobile-making business by selling its devices & services unit to Microsoft.
“After the Microsoft-Nokia announcement the strategic position of Jolla and Sailfish OS has strengthened significantly,” Jolla notes in a press release today.
With a new pre-sales campaign for Jolla-made hardware, Finns looking to express displeasure at the fate of the once mighty mobile maker being brought low by, at least in part, tying its fortunes to Microsoft’s OS will have the chance to buy into an alternative homegrown handset — one not running a made-in-Redmond OS.
“Due to extremely positive feedback and increased demand in the past weeks, we are offering another pre-order opportunity for our second production batch later this week through jolla.com. This will be targeted to Finnish customers who want to express their passion for the Finnish mobile industry,” Pienimäki added in a statement.