Friday, 10 January 2014

A journey of a year (more or less)

What have we done...

I had some time to sit down and think recently and give some perspective to the year that passed by.

(The post is obviously looking to my life at Jolla even though that has been big part of my life it is not the only thing that happened during this year but don't worry I won't talk about that :D)

January, Jolla had 50-something employees, we were looking for a System on Chip (SoC) to build a phone, we had some hunches, but it had been very difficult to involve major players that far. We had already an OS based on X11, Qt4.8 and a lot of legacy MeeGo code. Still lots do be done but at least something more than slides.

February, we went to Barcelona for MWC2013 and it was a blast, even though we were in the middle of nowhere in the last pavilion people and journalists came looking for us and we were able to tell our story. We finalized the decision of going with STE a SoC and we were more than ready to build a phone.

March, just a month after having found an SoC and lots of work under the hood had gone STE told us that they were not able to support us anymore. So in a couple of weeks we had to make some very big decisions...

April... so we started a project to evaluate the feasibility of making a product based on Carsten Munk's libhybris, Qt5 and Wayland. Wayland had reached 1.1 by that time and (as far as I know) we were the first ones making a mobile product with it. Same goes with Qt5. At the same time we were in search for a new SoC, a new ODM and a new product. No pressure...

End of April-May, the project was a success, we decided to go for it and the whole company started to move all the internal projects from X11+Qt4.8 to libhybris+Wayland+Qt5. It was less than painless and it took us about a couple of months to go back to the state were we where in March with the other SoC. A new product program was made on April 23rd and we set the target date for sales on w47.2013. We started a pre-sales campaign based on the SoC we managed to secure. We had the first Jolla Love Day in Helsinki where we presented our device.


June-July, the whole company was running full speed on the new project, every day there was a new something running and working. Performances were not yet great but given the time we had it was fantastic what Sailors managed to achieve.

August, lots of perplexity on the schedule, we seemed to be late, not enough was working fast enough and we had to take a lot of things off the plan to maintain schedule and quality. We were only 12 weeks from sales and things had just started working on the new HW.

September was dedicated to fixing bugs bugs and more bugs.

October was the month of the change. We had a bugfixing week in Helsinki with people from all over the world (from Australia to Europe to US) and only in that week we managed to fix more than 700 bugs. Sailors worked an average of 14 hours a day and quadruplicated the velocity. We started to go downhill, all the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. It was almost magic.

After that we had 3 weeks to sales and we were tired, happy and confident that we would have made it.

November was the month of Slush and the announcement that we would have shipped on Nov 27th.

From (Copyright 2013: Jussi Hellsten)
And then there was Nov 27th in Kamppi, Helsinki. That was week 48: just 1 week of delay on our original plan back in April. Lots of love from all over the world, lots of party (part of the things I promised not to talk about :) )

Just recently, in December we were hit by some nasty data corruption in our shipping system that created some tension inside the company and especially some unhappiness among our eager customers. Mr. Logistic managed to fix the problems and put the train back on tracks just for Christmas tree to be full of Jollas. And we maintained the promise of shipping our product in 2013.

Then we opened our online web store and started serving the whole EU (support us and buy a Jolla today!)

Just 2 weeks ago we opened our co-creation platform  and to date there are more than 2000 posts by more than 1600 users.

Ah and we released 2 updates and 1 hotfix in 1 month, more than most of the devices out there will ever get in their lifetime.

During this journey we managed to get to about 100 awesome Sailors aboard and still counting.

The road was extremely tough and still we managed to deliver a product to the market in time. We focused on quality and stability rather than on number of features and we committed to our customers to listen to them and support the phone so it will remain valuable, relevant and well performing. We did this in about 100 guys and girls: we built an OS, an app store, a product, logistic and sales channels, online collaboration tool, SDK and developer intake.

We changed the SW and the HW architecture in May 2013 and we still made it (I still haven't probably realized the magic in this...).

This goes to our Sailors: UBERAWESOME!

The road ahead

Sure we have done a lot in very short time. But what is coming next?

This is just the beginning. We committed to release updates often: we did. And we will keep doing.

More features will come. We will react to the feedback we get on the various channel, we will build this OS with our users, we will keep talking, responding and fighting.

We will be in Barcelona again for MWC (want to meet us? Contact our press dept. ;) ) and besides eating tapas and drinking good wine and beer we will demo some of the cool new things we have been working on.

We will provide (the hacker) community with tools to hack on top of Jolla and Sailfish.

We have another 12 months ahead before getting again to the "look back and see what you did" moment.

Let's walk this road together.


  1. This year, I haven't managed to get a press pass :(. I'll contact you. I cross my fingers :)

    Have you planned a small stand this year? :D

  2. This is amazing to read... tough sailors indeed


  3. We will try to meet you in live at the MWC from JollaEs and JollaIt, to sahre some love and experiences.
    Awesome how you start from 0 to reach such a high level, I really look at you as a model for my future (22 years old right now at the university)

  4. Great read, great CTO, great company! Thank you Jolla :-)

  5. Awesome and amazing! Love you, guys!

  6. Stefano, *big* thanks for putting it all on a page. This is piece of history.

  7. I really think you guys did amazing job.
    good luck for the next year.
    please continue to surprise us!!!

  8. You guys have shown the world what a 100 guys and girls can do. Great job guys.

  9. I was one of those unhappy eager customers, but I am happy now ;-)

    Stefano, huge thanks for this article!

  10. Amazing work. Keep it up!! :)

  11. You Guys rock!!! I mean you rock my world!!!

  12. Jolla user exactly for one month now and not going back. Thank you for letting me on the drivers seat. Keep up the good work!!

  13. Nice post Stefano, thank you for keeping in touch! :)

  14. Big respect for what you've done so far, BUT...
    There's still LOTS of unanswered Qns that we need answered in the next few mths.

  15. I have been following Jolla story since 16July2012 (actually from the beginning of MeeGo project), and I went From France to Helsinki for the Jolla Launch Event on 27nov2013, I have met fantastic sailors, enjiyed tge event and was invited to the after launch event with all Jolla Team. I felt the hapinness, the passion, the kindness around the place, it was really unbelievable and memorable. Thank you for your welcoming and for everything. I met you there Stefano just before leaving in front of the lifts with (Eric), and it was a real pleasure :)
    Thank you for what you are sharing with us.
    Christian Emlek

  16. No word in this post about being able to install the Sailfish OS on one's own phone (like my Nexus 5) in 2014. This seems critical to expand Sailfish's usage, especially in the US. Anyone know the status on this or a link for the project?

  17. Did you perhaps mean "We did this WITH about 100 guys and girls"

    Doing it IN them would be creepy and difficult ;)

  18. Although I was a little bit annoyed about the lack of communication after the DNA event, I must say this is really an absolutely amazing story. You went through a lot of pain. I wish you all the best for your future. I love my Jolla! You made it!

  19. Aaahhh... goose bumps. I had suspected that the ST Ericsson thing must have been a huge setback for you. What I never knew was that the move from Qt4/X11 to Qt5/Wayland wasn't originally planned, either. I really wonder what kept you going in those days after STE had left the boat. Seriously. Wow.

    You know, it's not only the device or the OS that makes me passionate about Jolla. It's articles like this one (who'd ever read such information from inside Samsung?), it's the energy that comes across in your video interviews, it's everything about you guys that tells me that you really mean to make a great phone. My phone.

    I'm not on facebook or twitter, so let me take this opportunity to say "Thank you, sailors!" :)

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