Sunday, 6 October 2013

Jolla: community and innovation

I write this open letter to the communities out there inspired by Misha and Lucien telling a bit of "behind the scenes" in Jolla.

About openness and communities.

I have been involved in Meego (named OSSO and Maemo before that) since 2005 when I moved to Finland and started working in Nokia. Few months after I started working in Nokia the 770 Internet Tablet was released and since then I have seen several other Linux based products being developed and released to the public (and some not released to the public). I loved the atmosphere and the learning I was able to do at Nokia. Most importantly I learned a bit more about open-source and community as a (mostly passive) member of

Openness is a very cool thing and Nokia was not bad at all in that respect. And I learned a lot about being open, open-source and related.

As Lucien points out very well Jolla is a company that has to do business and make money, like any other company in the world. Being open is not about telling all what we think and do exactly when we think and do that. Everything and right away. It would just be insane from any kind of perspective. It could disrupt all the innovation we are having, other companies might copy us, investors might not invest in the company anymore, customers and partners might feel betrayed and so on.

One clarification that I also have to make is that Jolla is not "using" open-source, Jolla is using AND contributing back. 75-80% of the code we use is upstream in Mer and Nemo and we make no forks (if and when we do it is a rare and extreme case).

Openness in Jolla is open communication between the inside and the outside of the company (what I am doing right now and what we try to do as much as we can), as being active part of a good open source project like Mer and Nemo.

If you think openness as "I need to know everything and right away" that is not being open to me. It is being stupid from business point of view. And even though you might see us as a set of crazy guys, no we are not stupid.

Yes we do listen and we do care about what you guys think and say and regardless what you think we change or try as much as we can to change plans based on the feedback you give us. And we respect you enough to answer you (on twitter or wherever else).

Being on internet is not our primary job, we all have at least a couple of other jobs inside the company. But we still do it for a very simple reason: we could not be here without you and your support.

That's why we care about communities that follow us. You are our customers, our research department and our feedback loop into real life.

In this business timing is essential. And also timing of revealing things is essential. Mer and Nemo as open source projects have these discussion in the open and Jolla sailors as part of these projects do participate in these discussions. And since 80% of what we do is Mer and Nemo, well we don't want to fork these projects and you can go there and see what we are doing there.

We are as transparent as we can be at any given time. And time is a precious variable here.

About what we are doing

We are not doing a "proof of concept" device. We are doing a real device that works. And we are doing that in 80 people.That means that yes we are a small company, I would say a tiny-miny company in this world, compare us to all the major phone manufacturers of the world. HTC has 16K employees. Nokia 97K. Sony 146K. LG 220K. Samsung 425K. We are 80 (no Ks here, just 80). And we are doing an OS and a phone (None of the company above is writing anymore their own OS, all of them use either Android or Windows.). EDIT: As pointed out in the comments Samsung is working on Tizen, just it hasn't released any phones based on it yet.

We are so tiny that our company is probably the size of the cleaning department in any of the companies mentioned above.

Still we are making a smartphone AND an OS that powers this smartphone.

This company named Jolla did not even exist on paper two years ago, yes we had ideas but we had no money, no employees and no name. No website, no mail addresses, no nothing. Still 2 years after a lot of people are talking about us and are waiting a phone made by these guys and girls in Jolla.

When this phone will be on the shelves, with its beautiful and priceless design, with it's crazy good UI, when you will boot it up and you will read Jolla on the screen and then the phone will connect to the network and you will be able to make your first phone call with it, that call, that boot logo, that will have the sweat and the blood of 80 guys (and some subcontractors) that have devoted the last two years of their lives for you to make that phone call (thank you Sailors!). They will have slept half of the time they should, spent half of the time they should have spent with their families and done way less exercise than they should have done, for you. And of course they will have done it for themselves. Because they believe in Jolla and they believe in Sailfish and in what it can be.

That is our love and our passion. You just can't touch it yet but we do love you guys. And when you will touch the device for the first time everything will be clear to your eyes. I won't have to say anything anymore. I will not have to explain. This device is a pure, pristine, crystal monument to the love we feel for you and for this software and hardware. And you will not care about the megapixels and the ppis, the megahertz and the megabytes.

Specwars and innovation

Have you realized that before three years ago nobody was talking about specs? Yes there was a bit about megapixels on cameras but I just can't remember all this fuss about specs.

The 1st gen iPhone did not have 3G (they made the 3G version for that). The iPhone 3GS (it was mid 2009) had an average camera, decent RAM, and average processor by that time. There were at least other 20 phones that had equal or better specs. Nobody talked about its specs though.

But Apple managed to do something that others did not manage to do. Have a beautiful UX on a beautiful design.

Pumping up the specs is easy, working on a beautiful user experience is the hard part. Putting that beautiful experience in a great industrial design so that SW and HW become a unique PRODUCT is not something that a lot of companies can do. And that's what we are focusing on at Jolla. Because we believe that is what matters and that is our differentiation. We don't have to differentiate with the specs. We can (and are) innovating on the UX by building a product that stands out already on the shelf.

Was talking to a friend the other day and he said he walked into Dixon's and imagined the Jolla placed there on the shelf. He said: "there would be nothing else to look at".

I haven't seen too much innovation recently, instead I heard a lot about who has it bigger and faster. It starts to get so flat and boring...

Thank you communities

Finally I want to thank you.

Thanks, keep being critic, keep us in line, push Jolla to do the best it can, don't buy the device if you don't want but keep talking with and about us. We are all human beings, we can make great things but we can make them only together. We can fail miserably as well, but only if we don't listen to the signals that the world is sending us.

We are Jolla. Together. Let's walk this road as good friends.


  1. Thanks, Stefano. You really have a way with words. You speak like you talk. And you write this with the myriad of other things you have to do. I appreciate this because it helps me get perspective on what it is we are doing and of what I am a part.

  2. Excellent!!!!!!!!
    We are with u Jolla ...

  3. Great post! I'm eagerly awaiting my Jolla. :D Just a small correction - Samsung does have its own OS, they just don't use it (yet) :)

    1. You are right Bundyo, I almost forgot about that...

    2. They have several OSs, they don't use Tizen yet, however they have sold some million phones using their other own Phone OS named Bada.

  4. You should have made it smaller :P (ubuntu edge dimensions would have been great)

    1. Latest I heard Ubuntu Edge will never be made though ;)

    2. Ubuntu Edge was no more than a concept, that's a big difference compared physical beta hw/sw.

  5. You are awesome! Jolla is awesome! Community is excellent. I have faith in you all and I can see the success of Jolla in the nearest future. Love you all and hope to get the device in my hands soon.

    See you in Finland!

  6. I just can't wait for the phone in my hand & of course the other half as well, I am sooooooooo excited with #Jolla Phone, thanks for create this great Product~ I have the same excited with the #Sailfish OS too~ :D

  7. Thanks Stefano!
    Me/us really needed these/such words to make confident that Jolla does listen and care about community!
    I will not deny that even I am getting inpatient to get my Jolla, and this eagerness is increasing by every day that passes :) I event started thinking about the color :D
    Always remember community supports you and needs, so spend a little precious time for tweet or comment.
    Let the force be with you sailors!

  8. Brilliant post, Stefano!

  9. How about setting up a phone number, where we (those who ordered the first ones) could make the first call and say "thank you" (or something) directly to you?

  10. Fantastic letter, grande Stefano !

  11. "Jobsian-like" inspirational rallying cry, but with more credibility...

  12. Excellent :-) Waiting for my Jolla eagerly. In a business environment like the mobile industry 1,5 years is a long time and kudos to Jolla, the sailors and community for keeping the flame burning even though no device has been delivered yet. It just goes to show how much people want this! :-)

  13. We are with you Jolla !
    Jolla phone will be the next phone for me and my wife, I don't care about specs.. I like Jolla device and Sailfish OS and I want to help you guys buying devices and making my iOS apps for Sailfish.

  14. TNX for the good a Swedish speaking Finn I saw Nokias decline in two ways. The death of Meego or the Symbian opennes and kissing goodbye to all those who wanted a rigid strong phone to take to work in the field. As the saying."if it ain't broken don't fix it" these people turned to Samsung. For me windows in my computer is enough so I welcome Sailfish And Jolla. The moment it could be ordered I did it. Keep up the good work Guys and Girls

  15. Ciao Stefano! :-) I think the most important point is the one about timing. Also we in Canonical try to be as open as possible developing Ubuntu, at the point that *every* software component (UI included) is open source, and anyone can contribute at it. Yet, the *direction* where the project is going, at least for the software being developed mostly by Canonical employees, is mostly fixed. One needs to stay focused and we cannot afford being blocked on our roadmap because of some non essential issues. (Incidentally, I believe this is the main reason behing the Mir/Wayland controversy: being able to develop the product at the pace we need)

    Most of the decisions which are perceived as "closedness" from the outside, are just a consequence of the need for timely developments.

  16. "(Incidentally, I believe this is the main reason behing the Mir/Wayland controversy: being able to develop the product at the pace we need)"

    Not to digress, but there's MANY folk out there who wouldn't agree that that's the only primary reason, far from it.

  17. Im speechless. So great was this. :)

  18. Nice to see some contents that is not trapped in facebook :)

    Didnt know they used contactors .... wish I could be one someday who knows :)

    Long live jolla !



  19. Keep rocking guys!
    I will try to do my little part, porting apps, spreading the word and critic the product to make you improve it :)
    Let me dream again!

  20. Great post! Eagerly waiting to get my hands on the Jolla. :)

  21. I hope the quality would be good. By the way, what is the back cover material used in Jolla?

  22. Great post! Can't wait to have phone in my hands! Just one note thought. I'm sure you belive everyone deserves an answer in twitter etc, but I haven't got a single one. But anyway, I don't mind (just mentioned) I belive you have more important things to do. :) Good luck to you guys and girls!

  23. Nokia does happen to have not one, but two in house, live and selling OS-es, even if not at the high-end :)

  24. Thanks Stefano!
    I can't wait to put my hands on a Jolla phone. Unfortunately in my choice I am constrained by my company's standards... IMAP, CALDAV and my Job (needs Maps as I am traveling a lot) so if I get a Jolla that will be my only device and needs to satisfy all personal and company requirements... hope so... I am sad without my other half! :-)

  25. This is because we believe in you and in this great adventure. This is the price of Liberty namely to support good works. I can assure you that as long as you keep the course you have taken, I will always be with you as a client, and more!

  26. Grande Stefano!! Grande Jolla!!

  27. Condivido, I do absolutely agree!
    Jolla is way ahead, even if it has to deal with big giants. We're all waiting for the first device, and I hope it will be a great success!

  28. Thanks for the post Stefano. It really explains a lot and I agree with most of it, especially with your points about specs. Still I have one concern left: why not a LED screen? The power save screen on N9 was a killer feature. I had been asked many times why N9 was better than anything else. Swipe UX, multi-tasking, etc didn't impress people as much as Billboard powered power save screen did.

  29. At that res. AMOLED would've been complete "FAIL", I'm glad they didn't opt for AMOLED at that res/PPI. Besides, a LPM "of sorts" can still be implemented via LCD/IPS, tis not as effective as LED ofc, but there's also the RGD LED to offset that.

    1. Well, RGB is absolutely a different kind of thing. It won't show you weather, battery %, etc.

    2. Yes, which is why I mentioned that it won't be the "only" option available.

    3. That sounds promising then.

    4. Yup. Not as optimal as what could be done with AMOLED, but, a decent compromise given that AMOLED IQ would've been fail at that res/PPI.

  30. Ciao Stefano, grazie mille dall'Italia! I'm looking forward to have finally Jolla Phone in my hands, really can't wait to use it and discover everything about it! You approach to this new advernture is amazing, i love it! You all guys are building with us something similar to a family, where we can ask you things and you, or Marc or some other guy always give us and answer and a "reason why" and this is really incredible... And if you've 2 spear time minutes, take a look to CV you received 'cause you have art least one from Italy and it's mine!! D: go ahead this road, guys!

  31. Jolla took a heavy load on their shoulders by wanting to develop both the hardware and the software themselves. That surely has its advantages, but it cannot be used as an excuse for everything.

    Some time ago I asked @JollaHQ, @MarcDillonDotFi and @AnttiSaarnio on Twitter whether Jolla would get some kind of permission-control in regard to the implementation/running of Android-apps on the device.

    No reaction at all.

    Jolla will likely appeal to Linux-people, and they are much more aware of those things and concerned about privacy-issues than the average human being. So why not clarify a bit? That hasn't got anything to do with being small and having to compete against much bigger companies. And off course one prefers to run native apps, but there is a reason for implementing the ability to run Android apps.

    At the time i was asking that simple question, it was already possible to make pre-orders. That makes it very disappointing not getting any reaction or information about that issue.
    To make things clear: The question was just IF there would be some kind of permissioncontrol, not HOW that would be implemented.

    1. Alas comment links are broken there, so I can't give you a direct link, but search through all the comments made by shane:

      Now from those posts/links it's not 100% clear if it's permission control per-say, but based on that info. it's clear that "some form" of control is coming.

    2. Thank you for that link!
      As you already mention, no 100% clarity on permission control. What i would like is having the possibility to control permissions myself.
      For instance: IF i would run Whatsapp (I strongly prefer standard XMPP/Jabber), would i be able to prevent Whatsapp to suck all kind of unneccesery information from my phone? Of course it 'needs' my contact list, but i don't want it to collect anything else. Would a user get the possibility to control that him-/herself? That is a completely different issue than preventing malware with the help of a company like F-Secure. I think those kind of issues should be clarified a bit more by now.

      Another very interesting issue is the ability to run Sailfish on Android hardware. Like James (Sepehr Noori) is saying, Sailfish should be officially Android hardware adapted. So many people got the impression that they would probably be able to install Sailfish on their Android device.
      However Shane responded to that with: 'At no point has Jolla said they’ll help facilitate that sort of thing, & their help would be needed in certain areas/ways.'
      So, it looks like that may not be as easy after all. One gets the feeling from that remark that it is probably not even a 'driver' kind of issue, but more a license issue.
      As far as i understand, the underlying OS will be open source, but the Sailfish UI will be NOT. Porting Sailfish to an Android device but without the UI, is not very appealing of course.

      Jolla is talking about licensing Sailfish to telecom providers and/or phone manufacturers, which is understandable from the point of view of making some money. On the other hand, Jolla will also benefit from a significant market share. So from that point of view it could be benificial for them as well to quickly create a large userbase. Particularly when you have in mind that they are not delivering their own phone in large quantities. (Actively) creating the possibilty for users to install Sailfish on an Android device could help them to gain a more significant position in the market. But no clarity on that aspect either.

      Anyway, i don't want to sound negative and i really hope they pull it off. I think that goes for more people here, otherwise we wouldn't even bother to give a reaction.

    3. The point was stuff like that is clearly leaking out in dribs & drabs, I think you need re-read this article about why they're not doing complete dumps of the entire project's progress.

      James needs to be much more careful with the stuff he's communicating, he's often not helping Jolla with many of the big assumptions he claims as "fact" or "near fact".

      One of the main pillars of Jolla's business model, is to license their sw, giving it away for free on Android devices is in total conflict with that.

      Now, they may eventually give away a much lighter version of sailfish, but, that remains to be seen, & it's far too early to be saying that's what they'll do.

      As for the rest TL:DR, too busy lately...

    4. Oh & the they've said before that some of the UX will be open, not necessarily all of it but large chunks will.
      Probably just not the most critical/core apps & OS sections...

    5. Thanks again for clarifying things!
      Still there is a widely spread presumption that it will be possible to install Sailfish on Android devices, like for instance a Nexus 4 or 5. But you are right, if you carefully study licensing, it becomes clear that that will not necessarily be the case.

      However, if Jolla expects clients to make pre-orders, it's about time to be a bit more precise on, for example, permission control as stated before. As a customer you want to know a bit more beforehand, before ordering things. Answering these kind of simple but important questions doesn't require complete dumps of the entire project's progress.

    6. They've been releasing a stead flow of info, if you've been following along closely, but I agree, there should be a much stronger flow in the next few months, especially if they don't plan to slip past Dec as the shipping date.

      "Still there is a widely spread presumption that it will be possible to install Sailfish on Android devices, like for instance a Nexus 4 or 5."

      This is purely due shit-house journalism, really it's little more than that, they've been very clear in their communication surrounding this, it was picked-up by others & totally re-interpreted.

      Part of the reason that keeps happening, is because most of the media houses they're directly interfacing with are Finnish or northern EU. Other major media outlets have simply shown little interest so far, & Jolla themselves haven't done enough to interface directly with them.

  32. we support jolla,,sail on sailors!!!! :)

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Hey Stefano,

    Thanks for the writeup and the kind words!

  35. Everybody's passion for this comes across so strongly. I must have read and you tubed everything on Jolla sailfish and completely believe in you. I will be the first to get it in Glasgow (I hope!) Thank you for this! <3

  36. Aye!
    this is the spirit behind N900 and N9 (and probably N8x0 and 770 but as wifi isn't an option where i live i didn't use those, alas)
    thank you all for that!
    and for carrying on the effort and bringing us a successor for those wonderful devices.
    still hope for a QWERTY other half of course to "really" replace the N900, but either way, as a long-time GNU/Linux and open source user this is the only way to go.
    let's hope the consumers will come to appreciate this as well - beyond the simple beauty of the hardware and software

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