Finnish startup Jolla apparently tapped into a source of serious demand when it launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for its Jolla Tablet, a 7.85″ display device running the Linux-based Sailfish OS 2.0. The crowdfunding campaign blew past its $380,000 target within a couple of days of its November 19th launch, and as of the time of writing, has secured over $1.2 million in pledges, or 318 percent of the target, with 16 days still to go.
What could be the secret of Jolla’s success? It might be the Sailfish OS, “mobile-optimized with the flexibility, ubiquity and stability of the Linux core and a cutting edge user experience,” according to the SailfishOS.org site. “We believe there is a clear need for a modern and independent mobile OS that enables free competition and innovation, without predominant control by a single player,” the site continues. “Sailfish brings and fosters innovation to offer unique differentiation and a competitive advantage for OEMs and ODMs, chipset providers, operators, application developers and retailers.”
How this will square with the received wisdom that a mobile OS needs a healthy ecosystem and – above all – a plentiful supply of apps remains to be seen, but at least the Sailfish OS in principle offers Android app compatibility. Just as important, though, could be the promise that “at Jolla, we believe in your privacy and respecting our users. That’s why Sailfish OS is totally independent and has been built the way it has. It’s our company policy that we’ll never sell or share your data with anyone. There are no back doors or anything third parties could use for monitoring your activity.”
Do enough users care enough about their privacy to support an entire OS and alternative mobile device architecture out of their distrust of the three big As: Apple, Android, and Amazon? Well, it looks as though the crowfunding audience have voted with their wallets on that issue. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Jolla already has a working phone out there in the marketplace, which has been well reviewed and apparently has few to no issues with functionality. Or that the platform has benefited from all the Euros and man-hours that Nokia ploughed into the MeeGo OS project, which gave rise to Sailfish.
The hardware specs for the Jolla Tablet, with an Intel quad-core chip, 32GB of memory plus an expansion slot, and a starting price of just $189, certainly look impressive enough. But this isn’t the only device in that league, and hardware alone can’t explain this level of interest. Whatever the reason, though, the Jolla Tablet is now out there and well funded as a genuinely competitive device, and Apple and Google can look forward to some real – though arguably small and niche – competition. And for onscreen readers, if you want it, your ereader of choice could be a Jolla Tablet soon.