Sailfish mobile OS development is shuddering to a halt

by Steve Blum • , ,

Another attempt to build an alternative to the Android mobile operating system is circling ever closer to the drain. A Nokia spin-off, Jolla, is laying off about half of its employees because an expected new round of investment didn’t come through. That means that development of its Sailfish operating system will be on the back burner. According to a story in TechCrunch, Jolla’s chairman, Antii Saaarnio, they need the money in order to hang onto talent…

“We are of course hoping that these are temporary actions… And we are committed to continue the company but really this depends on the external investors as well, how are we able to continue operations,” Saaarnio adds…

However he concedes it would be unable to retain the talent and fund the expensive development work needed to ensure its Sailfish OS is competitive against more well-resourced mobile OS rivals.

The main problem is that Jolla was relying on a single, unnamed strategic investor to pony up the new round of cash. I’ve seen that scenario play out in several start ups personally. Strategic investors don’t tend to be interested in a new product itself, but rather in either the opportunities it might create for their primary line of business or in the leverage it can give them in negotiations with competitors. Once they get what they need, there’s no reason to keep pumping money into the project.

Jolla has already slow tracked plans to manufacture phones to go along with the Sailfish OS, focusing instead on licensing it to companies in developing countries. So far, it has one licensing deal signed with an Indian manufacturer; no phones are on the market yet.