As I thought it could be useful to anyone who wants to read Stefano’s words and/or to other sailor-fellows who want to cross-translate the interview into their own language, I decided to publish it. Note that it’s a “raw” translation, featuring a not so polished nor refined language.
If you want to re-post it and/or translate it, please keep credits to TecnoNation and, possibly, me.
What is Jolla and what does it name mean?
Jolla is a firm and its name comes from a Finnish word that means “little boat”. The whole company is related to maritime themes and its employees are called “sailors”. The sailfish is a fast and agile fish and, since our OS is intuitive and fast, we decided to call it Sailfish OS.
What prompted you to carry on the developing of the MeeGo project, abandoned by Nokia?
Nokia has decided to focus on a different operating system. I started in 2005 and I was among the first 150 employees working on the MeeGo project, up to the N9…We have decided to continue to develop this project as a matter of affection and when we realized it would have been impossible in Nokia to carry it out we decided to do something on our own, bearing in mind that we always knew (and we believe), that the operating system is commercially very valuable. Everything was made easier because 65% of the OS is open source so we could use and develop the remainder.
Do you think Sailfish is a real Linux distro or something in between such as Android?
I never thought about the concept of distribution related to Sailfish OS, the project is based on Mer and Nemo project, the operating system itself is open source, it is a distro, but we can not compare it to the classic distros like Debian.
Talking about Android, you said its apps will work on Sailfish but so don’t you risk to lose the speed that the system currently has, since those apps are going to run on a virtual machine?
Android has a virtual machine and we use the same virtual machine (the open source part) to run Android apps. There are no performance issues, we do not know how much they will be faster on our operating system, but they would gain something in terms of performance.
Will Sailfish OS be installed on Android devices? if so what are the minimum requirements?
Technically it would be possible. But as Jolla we are not focusing on that, we are focusing on our hardware platform.
Are you considering to adopt a standard hardware platform, how the competition is doing, based on Qualcomm hardware? If yes, why? To make things easier whereas the Snapdragon serie includes all the communication technologies?
Qualcomm is one of many manufacturers. Technically we can rely on anyone, but currently we are focusing on another piattaform. There are a lot of alternatives to Qualcomm on the market, which include the same features.
Was hard to lose a partner like Intel that now finances the competition (Tizen)?
It was Nokia to have a partnership with Intel. Jolla has not lost anything since there has never been partnership.
On which feature of Sailfish you bet to advertise?
The UI features. Multitasking, the easy-to-use pulley menu with tactile feedback, the ambience.
Which markets and which target are you betting on?
We are a small company and we’are focusing on a medium/high-end device. We are not interested, at the moment, to create low-end or high-end devices.
The first market that will see a Sailfish device will be the Finnish one, considering we have about 5 million fans there. After that it will be released in China and later in Europe, although there is still no clarity on how it will be marketed, if through operators or through online sale.
Talking on times, in the second half of 2013 we will begin to provide the first two markets, Finland and China.
However, timetables are related to agreements with operators, we have seen that there is much interest. Then it is obvious that we have to see how this interest will materialize.
If you had to find the strenght of Sailfish OS compared to competitors in the open source world what would it be? What does Sailfish make it unique for you?
The ease of use. And then, as we come from Nokia, we have a technical background that allows us to build on what we have learned on the hardware side. We are trying to make people understand that the number of cores or RAM doesn’t matter, but how the OS uses them does. You can easily find on internet videos where Sailfish runs very smoothly even on terminals rather dated.
In a previous interview you reminded me of a character that pointed to the creation of software and hardware, produced and designed by the same company, to make the user experience unique…Will Jolla begin to produce devices itself?
We’re going to produce Jolla devices with our graphic language. We’re talking about products, so something that lives, an object. The most important thing learned in my experience in Nokia is that the whole product should delight its customers, not just the OS or the hardware.
Will Sailfish also be available for tablet?
Sailfish by its nature can work very well on tablets, IVI, set-top boxes, televisions, etc…as MeeGo was designed to run on many different devices. But currently we are focused only on smartphones.
In an economic time where it is difficult to do business, what do you recommend to a young man full of ideas for developing and presenting a project of his operating system? Might the world of open source make it easy to create a “software house”?
A guy with good ideas must do what he believes, never listen to anyone who doubts of your ideas. If we had listened to all those people who advised against this road we would not have been here with all the interest that surrounds us.
Now we have to wait for the word of the consumer. I can advise young entrepreneurs to believe in their own ideas and never give up.
In practical terms, make an OS is not a simple thing. We are in 60 and it’s a great success doing what we have achieved with this number of resources. This is possible because we have inherited a good 60% MeeGo and why we have the best experts on the market. We can be an example and be a platform for innovation. If we succeed in bringing the project to a decent level, we will make new projects above. With our experience we can bring new ideas. We want to bring innovations in a stagnating market. It takes a lot of experience to make an OS. Talking about Italy, unfortunately they don’t bet on young people and innovation. There are certain limits that clip the wings of the company itself. In Italy there is no meritocracy…
How much chances do you think you have to slot into a market dominated by Apple and Google in which even a giant like Microsoft (with its sometimes strange choices) is having difficulty in entering?
I think that, just because the market is dominated by these giants, we have some possibilities. If you see 100 black shirts and one red, certainly the red one will grab your attention.
Android has had success with the store, as the apps allow you to customize the device. If you can offer this capability natively in the operating system, you will not need all those apps. Everyone will have his customized Sailfish device. If the store is well cared 150 apps are enough. However, I repeat, Sailfish will support Android applications, these will run with no changes.
However, since our very eye-catching graphic language, developers will be encouraged to develop for our platform.
What do you think of your most direct competition – Ubuntu, Firefox and BB10 to which should be added also Tizen?
I don’t think anything about Tizen, since I can’t understand what they are doing. The road map is not clear. As it is not clear when there will be a smartphone, as it will be etc…; Firefox is targeting Latin America and low-end devices; I don’t know when Ubuntu will release a device. We are pleased that these last two are on the market as it means that it is the right moment to enter into the market with the open source.
BlackBerry uses Qt so if it is successful we will be successful too!To transfer an app from Ubuntu, BB, etc to Sailfish only takes a couple of hours.
We are only 60 people, so we do not need large numbers. Returning to the earlier remarks, I think BB is on another segment of the market and these players can give us extremely beneficial.