Jolla to reveal its MeeGo OS 'Sailfish' and SDK this November

Jolla, the Finnish start-up championing the Linux-based operating system MeeGo, will give delegates at a Helsinki conference the first taste of its Sailfish OS and its SDK in a matter of weeks, with news on a separate operating system effort to follow before too long.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Jolla, the Finnish start-up that has picked up the MeeGo platform abandoned by Nokia, is to launch its first operating system next month.

Jolla will unveil the 'partner alliance' version of its Linux-based OS, codenamed 'Sailfish', at the Slush developer conference in Helsinki, Finland this November.

Jolla's CEO Jussi Hurmola will also reveal details of Sailfish's SDK at the conference which takes place on 21 and 22 November, but will not release details about its own Jolla smartphone until mid to late December.

Developers who attend the conference will get a chance to see the device, but won't be able to get hands-on with it, Jolla's CEO Jussi Hurmola told ZDNet.

"We are planning to show the hardware, but we cannot yet let people close to it. We will use Sailfish supported hardware to demo the Sailfish OS," said Hurmola. 

A tale of two operating systems

Jolla will be launching its own version of the MeeGo software and accompanying smartphones separately to the Sailfish effort, which Jolla will license to OEM and ODM manufacturers, retailers and operators before mid-2013. The Sailfish version of the platform will be used by the organisations who have joined Jolla's China-based 'partner alliance', announced on Tuesday, including chipset vendors, mobile operators and retailers.

The software for both platforms however will be "as close as possible", according to Hurmola, who says he hopes Jolla's approach with Sailfish will strike a better balance between control and freedom than either Apple iOS or Google Android have managed.  

Jolla CEO Jussi Hurmola on a recent trip to catch up with partners in China. Image: Jolla

The appeal of MeeGo Sailfish, says Hurmola, will be that it supports multiple form factors, including tablets, televisions, smartphones, and will allow partners - OEMs and operators, but also for example, companies such as banks and healthcare providers - to shape key parts of the platform rather than simply being confined to applications.

"We are not being jealous about what brands do and how the end customers are using the UI," said Hurmola.

"We are not locked in a single style, a single feature. People are free to modify the appearance of the device and the functionality of the UI, so we have been building [Sailfish] based on configurability, so that the applications would still run even though you have different UIs," he added.

The CEO is hoping Sailfish will appeal to alliance partners by allowing them build their own "value adding" services into the OS. Rather than restricting interested parties to apps, Sailfish will be allowing companies to get involved on a more significant level with the platform.

"Most of the operators, the other channels, the service providers, have been limited to applications," said Hurmola. 

"They couldn't really integrate into the system itself so we will be providing a new possibility for them to add their services as part of the device, OS and ecosystem itself."

Jolla hopes to avoid the kind of fragmentation affecting developers on Android by having alliance partners contribute to Sailfish edition of MeeGo.

"This is actually how we are going to prevent fragmentation," he said. "We provide packages for [alliance partners] to modify the OS so that we still keep it under control and have compatibility in it. This is a totally different take to existing platforms out there."

Jolla announced a Hong Kong-based datacentre earlier this week, which will support its work with Sailfish alliance partners. Hurmola said Jolla has secured the "first round" of investments from partners - set to total total around €200m.

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