Can Jolla make it big in China as an Android alternative?

by: Gary SimsJanuary 25, 2013

Launching a new touch screen mobile operating system in the already crowded market is ambitious. It has been tried by big names like HP with dismal results. Even stalwarts like RIM and Microsoft are finding it hard to breaking Android’s and iOS’s strong hold on the market. So how can Jolla, the company that was formed to take over the development of the MeeGo operating system, succeed with its Sailfish OS?

Jolla is betting on China where there are still huge numbers of potential smartphone buyers. Apple hasn’t made as big as an impact in China as it has in the rest of the world and 90% of smartphones currently run Android. Jolla’s plan is to offer its open-source OS as a true alternative to Android.

The Sailfish Alliance was formed last November to unit handset manufacturers, chipset makers and network  operators to build the whole ecosystem need to make Sailfish succeed  Jolla now has a research and development center in Hon Kong which it is using to pull together its different partners and launch into the Chinese market.

According to Digital Strategy Consulting, Jolla won’t be aiming initially at the low-end of the market but rather the $500-$800 segment. This upper echelon could make enough money for the company to break even with sales of just 200,000 handsets. It is this start-up mentality and structure that means that Jolla could succeed where bigger companies have failed. Aiming for the top end of the market is a bold move, but it isn’t clear if it is the right one.

The danger is the Jolla could invest and innovate but then due to the open source nature of its OS and the culture in China of just copying and cloning, it could suffer and collapse as others make money from its efforts.

Also Sailfish isn’t the only Android alternative around. Samsung is involved in an open source, Linux based mobile operating system called Tizen, while Mozilla is pushing its Firefox OS. Recently the Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE revealed that it is is preparing to launch its Firefox OS powered smartphone in Europe before the end of 2013.

Are you tempted by an open-source alternative to Android? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

  • MasterMuffin

    But can Firefox Os or Tizen run android apps or only HTML5?

    • That is a good question. From what I understand only HTML5, so that is a big plus for Sailfish if it can deliver the promised Android compatibility.

      • MasterMuffin

        I hope it can, maybe I’ll buy one if it comes to Finland!

    • Tizen is besically another Linux based mobile OS like android, ubuntu and sailfish.. i believe app developers can modify a little bit of code and recompile to make it work on either of those OSes.

      • Nilesh, I don’t think you are right, you need to use the right SDK. It isn’t like compiling a program in C for one Linux distro and then compiling it again on another.

    • Antaress

      No, only Jolla Sailfish follows fully Linux standard hence there is possibility to have a layer of compatibility with Android (which is castrated Linux) so launch Android soft. limitations can happen when interface in Android soft would be “crazy coded”.

      • Antaress

        To be clear: At Sailfish OS you can launch Android software using mentioned layer directly, it works as native, with native speed no lags, whatsmore as Sailfish OS has best multitasking it will run together with other running software. It is not an emulation of Android, that makes big difference.

        • MasterMuffin

          I know, I just asked if Tizen or Firefox can do it and I’m glad they can’tt, Sailfish FTW!

  • frostbite

    well, as long as it’s fully open source and didn’t use Java or any Virtual Machine lag like android, I’ll give it a try :)

  • ching12

    ZTE phone sucks!

  • lige18
    • MasterMuffin

      It has been a long time since the last f*cker spammed here… flagged, AND NOW GTFO AND NEVER RETURN YOU KNIW WHAT SUCKER! -.-

  • This sounds dangerous prepare for a shitty experience with crashed apps all the time and frequent reboots

    • Antaress

      No man, just the opposite. I use Linux MeeGo at Nokia N9 from a few years already, and I have never noticed any crash or something like that, just because this is Linux – it is designed for such a work. And also it has never rebooted unless I wanted to. So I think you haven’t even seen nether Linux MeeGo on Nokia N9 nor Linux Sailfish OS on N900, see

    • MasterMuffin


  • Antaress

    hmmm… Sailfish OS is Linux exactly, full Linux in contrary to Android. Sailfish is based on Linux MeeGo, also Tizen is based on MeeGo but what is the effect after merging it with Samsung’s Bada it is not clear.

    China Telecom was one of partner in MeeGo project (former Nokia in pre-windows times + Intel) hence Chinese perfectly know why they want Linux MeeGo Sailfish OS.

    It is worth to know that Nokia N9 with MeeGo was one of best popular smartphone in China. Am I tempted? I just love it! N9 is user comfort like never before, that is a completely new experience. And yes I’ll buy Jolla ASAP. btw Sailfish OS is also open source project (but not Jolla UI) and it’s core MER from (MEego Reconstructed). Considering this OS is multi-purposes, like MeeGo was,: it can be in tablets, notebooks, navigations, cars & IVI, yachts & boats, scientific and industrial equipment. MS was so afraid Linux MeeGo that has decided to drive Nokia almost to bankruptcy to hold this project. Note that Lenovo have delivered IdeaPad 100 with Linux MeeGo, and Asus’s PadPhone was to be with MeeGo at first, not Windows. Why all those big fishes has tried Linux MeeGo? You can find yourself why 99% of those who tried Meeo on N9 or Nemo on N900 are delighted. Just it is better, that is all – and so will be SailfishOS, I am more then sure about that. .