Jolla's Sailfish gets Android compatibility as it reopens Sailfish device pre-orders

Following Microsoft's plan to acquire Nokia, Jolla is launching a second round of pre-orders for its smartphone, but for now it's limited to Finland.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Finnish smartphone startup Jolla has kicked off a second pre-order campaign — but only on its home turf for now — to capitalise on what it claims is new demand for Finnish hardware after Nokia's acquisition by Microsoft.

After wrapping up the first batch of pre-sale orders last month, the company of former Nokians has launched a second pre-sale campaign in Finland, which may be extended to other countries at a later date.

"There's demand for us in Finland, particularly at this moment after the Nokia-Microsoft announcement. That's why we are doing it now in Finland — because we have had so many requests from consumers that say, 'Hey, now you have to do this'. So we are doing it," Jolla's CEO Tomi Pienimäki told ZDNet.

Jolla hasn't said whether its second pre-sale campaign will be extended to the rest of the world yet and exactly how many devices are being made as for the first 'booked out' campaign remains unknown. Pienimäki declined again to give any specific numbers.

Meanwhile, Jolla claims to have achieved a "breakthrough" with Android hardware compatibility for its Sailfish OS.

The OS is available for licensing by carriers, device makers and anyone else interested in launching a Sailfish device, but so far Jolla's own smartphone — which it expects to ship by the end of the year to customers that pre-ordered it — is the only one definitely slated to launch so far.

Jolla says Sailfish can now run on "common" Android hardware, apparently meaning would-be vendors don't need to change hardware configurations or chipsets to get up and running with Sailfish.

Pienimäki declined to say which or how many Android smartphones its R&D team successfully tested for fear it could be misinterpreted as it having reached an agreement with those vendors.

"We have tested quite few ourselves. We have simply bought a device from a shop and then installed Sailfish on it," Pienimäki said. "I wouldn't want to give any names, if and when we are running Sailfish on hardware X, because it doesn't mean we have an agreement or contract with that company.

"During the past months we have been implementing Sailfish on different hardware, so I would say that this is evolution rather than revolution. Now we're confident that you can run this on quite a few different Android hardwares."

While claiming to be in "discussions with several major Asian vendors regarding this opportunity", Pienimäki declined to identify them beyond saying they were OEMs.

Android also figures prominently in Jolla's plans to have a decent repository of apps available at launch. Sailfish users can install Android apps thanks to a translation product Alien Dalvik, which is made by Swiss company Myriad Group and allows Android apps to run unmodified on other platforms. The Swiss company announced in 2011 that the product would support MeeGo (then aimed at Nokia's N900), which partially formed the basis for Jolla's Sailfish OS.

Some of the apps Jolla says can run on Sailfish include Instagram, WhatsApp, Spotify and China's WeChat. Jolla is looking to non-Google Android app stores to distribute apps to Sailfish users if and when Sailfish devices become available, but it's yet to announce any official partnerships.

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