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Android users will get to install Jolla’s rival Sailfish OS, bit by bit

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Jolla’s Sailfish OS isn’t Android(s goog) – not even an Amazon(s amzn)-style fork – but it can run Android apps and manufacturers can put it on the same hardware they use for Android devices. So after a pretty small-scale start, what would be the smart way for the plucky Finnish mobile upstart to make sure as many people as possible play with its software?

Yup. On Friday, Jolla announced the first complete version of Sailfish OS and said users themselves would later this year be able to install it on many Android devices – according to the post-Nokia outfit, this will include “major versions of popular Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, and Sony Xperia .” In the meantime, Jolla will soon put a Sailfish launcher into “common Android marketplaces”, so people can get their heads around the operating system’s gesture-based user interface.

All this will take place during the first half of this year, Jolla said, noting that the full Sailfish OS should be “commercially ready for global distribution” after the beginning of March, when Sailfish OS receives its fourth significant update.

The company also revealed partnerships with other big hitters from Finland: Rovio, for an Angry Birds-themed “The Other Half” smart cover, and security firm F-Secure, for free cloud storage. Jolla will also work with Finnish IT consultancy Tieto to offer integration services to manufacturers that want to make Sailfish OS phones.

According to Jolla COO and co-founder Marc Dillon:

“We’ve been working hard together with our user community to make the user experience of the Jolla smartphone and Sailfish OS effortless and distinct. We believe that Jolla now offers a truly viable option for all smartphone users. Naturally we are not stopping here, as we continue to provide monthly software updates to Jolla devices and Sailfish OS.”

Sailfish OS users will be able to install “their preferred Android app store”, Dillon added. Jolla has previously announced a partnership with Yandex to see the Russian web giant’s Android app store preinstalled on Jolla devices — as for the official Google Play Store, a Jolla spokesman told me that “technically it is possible to download it to the Jolla smartphone, but we don’t have any agreements in place currently with Google.” Sailfish OS is open source, and the community has already made native apps for Facebook(s fb), Twitter(s twtr), WhatsApp and Foursquare.

How likely is it that Android users will go Sailfish? Jolla is hopeful: chairman Antti Saarnio said in Friday’s statement that there are about a billion Android users out there. “Last year in China alone, about 100 million devices were re-flashed after the purchase with a new operating system. This approach allows Sailfish OS to scale into volume fast without limitations,” he noted.

“Just in a few months [since launch, presumably] we have shown how fast an open operating system can develop compared to closed ecosystems,” Saarnio continued. “It’s time for free choice instead of closed walled gardens.”

This article was updated at 3.30am PT to include extra detail about the possibility of using the Google Play Store on a Jolla phone.

8 Responses to “Android users will get to install Jolla’s rival Sailfish OS, bit by bit”

  1. murkcore

    Well, the way google is going, limiting sd card access and pushing for cloud storage, that is absolutely reason enough to switch. Google is becoming iOS one update after update. Google is taking away the very reason we switched from iOS in the firs place. So for me its a no brainer if google continues to shove cloud storage and removing sd card feature all together.

  2. i have had jolla now for 2 weeks and i love sailfish os.. i do not like to go back to android. This is interesting system. probably also less tracked.

  3. Privacy-vise Jolla is probably the best choise out there right now, the upcoming cooperation with F-secure’s younited cloud service is also clearly a step in this direction.

    However, the main thing about the Sailfish OS is it’s gesture-based UI. It requires a bit of learning, but once you do you don’t need to look so closely when you operate your phone. Hitting buttons on touch-screens isn’t really all that optimal, during the key-pad days one wouldn’t need to look so closely either… now Sailfish OS is bringing together the best of both worlds.

  4. Why would I want to? – I love trying new things. Perhaps I will enjoy it more than Android.

    Partnered with “Yandex”. – I simply would not install that app store. Yandex didn’t design the O/S.

    The O/S is Open Source, so development could proceed rapidly if a community is built around it. While switching may be limited to the technically inclined (those already flashing alternate roms to their devices), once it gets enough traction others may follow.

    More competition is healthy and gives end users more options. I’m up for that. :-)

    • You can’t just not install something that is preinstalled. Maybe you could uninstall it & install another store, but it will come installed. The article says that clearly.

  5. Brian Klippel

    Is there even a single good reason why anyone would want to? It’s less mature and partnered with an app store based in a country renowned for hacking, malware, and government invasion of privacy (cameras in sochi hotel bathrooms anyone?)