It is now past New Year, and the Jolla phone has already arrived to its early users. The very first product is the most important here, because while some companies got known through their products first and then developed brand loyalty, Jolla got famous through the buzz that surrounded the development of their machine, without them even giving much away about it, if not for the N9 inspiration factor. So, before we start speculating of the future of the company, let’s have a look at what has been accomplished.
The marketing for the company was quite unusual. For a few months, the company had nothing but a Twitter account, and most of its marketing occurred through it and their Wikipedia page. Simply put, their marketing was almost non-existent, and relied entirely on mouth-to-ear. This enabled them to reach a very specific audience, being the technology amateurs and the smartphones interested crowds. Geeks were naturally very curious about this company which would eventually become the successor to Nokia. The business crowds and busy people in general are also looking out for such innovations, as a replacement for Blackberry which has now become infamous for its different problems these last few years. The rest of the marketing until the launch only reinforced it, with the possibility to offer your own logo for the company, or the quote from Commander Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation at the Slush conference.
The launch then arrived, and the reviews started. Before we go any further, I would simply like to say that I have not tried the Jolla mobile. Therefore, all I could get about the quality of the phone were reviews. The reviews, so far, have been positive, many praising the look of the phone as well as the influence that the N9 had on it. The software was also praised, many liking the resemblance to the MeeGo platform. However, Sailfish OS is still in beta at the moment, which could explain some eventual glitches.
But what is to come for Jolla and Sailfish ? The first and most obvious question concerns the hardware : how is the Jolla phone going to evolve ? Is Jolla going to expand its range of products, like Samsung does, or are they going to keep the one and only model and update it like Apple does ? Both are entirely possible, but since the Jolla phone is made to showcase Sailfish, this also leads us to our second question : since Sailfish OS is open source, are any other company going to use it ? The Sailfish Alliance was created to promote Sailfish OS and thus enable it to be more widely used, and not only on mobile phones but also on tablets, computers, navigation systems, etc. It would certainly be interesting to see an HTC phone or a Huawei device using Sailfish, but is it realistic ? Moreover, how is Sailfish going to fare against the other Operating Systems that recently came out ? Ubuntu OS and Firefox OS have been launched very recently, and have to be considered very seriously. Contrary to Sailfish, the Ubuntu project and the Mozilla foundation are very old and recognizable names, and the chances are that other companies will be more willing to use them. And that is not even mentioning Android OS, which still remains the most used mobile system with iOS. How are the newcomers supposed to take over those two softwares when they are backed by some of the most powerful companies existing ? The technological world has been formatted to fit Android and iOS users, so how can they be beaten while having such a spectacular handicap ? Of course, Sailfish has the advantage of being compatible with Android hardware, but the brand value is still quite low.
As we can see, the next few months are probably not going to be about developing and software, but about marketing, and how Jolla can brand itself in a market that is soon going to reach saturation. This very saturation is going to be a very important time for the mobile market, because it will show which companies are going to enjoy decades of stability, and which are going to disappear. Many companies now look at the South Korean market, which many predictions show, is going to be the first saturated market. This will be a first for the mobile industry, and Jolla has to get ready for it.