Happy New Year Jolla Blog readers!
Moving on to the year 2015 is a good time to look at what we’ve achieved together so far and to give an outlooks on what’s coming later this year. Year 2014 was the first full year for Jolla to be out on the market with its own independent operating system, Sailfish OS; first with the Jolla smartphone and closer to the year-end with the Jolla Tablet. For us year 2014 included many awesome highlights and, of course, challenges.
A month ago at a party in Japan, I met the owner and the CEO of a large Asian company. When he heard we were from Jolla, he got super excited! He said: “Jolla… I have been using your company as an example to my people. I’ve said to them, I don’t know who these guys are, but I know that they are going to win. You know why? Because they’ve got passion!”
Passion, courage and great talent have carried the Jolla boat through the stormy weathers and tidal waves. And that was something that the mobile industry experts did not expect to happen. When we started the business, they said “you’ll not be able to make it. A start-up can’t make an OS and a smartphone. You’ll not get enough market visibility, you’ll not get enough financing, and you’ll not get big partners to support you”.
But guess what. Here we are, against all odds. We delivered the Jolla smartphone to the market, developed a world class OS, which is improving release by release, we’ve raised over 30M€ financing, we’ve had over 7000 articles written about us, and we’ve managed to sign contracts with major operator and distribution channels around the world. A lot of industry attention is now on Jolla.
Never underestimate the power of passion, courage and talent. With these ingredients nothing is impossible! Trust yourself, trust the people you are working with and never give up.
A year full of launches & events
Year 2014 was a pilot year for Jolla and a very demanding one. In addition to the smartphone and OS development, we had to build all company processes from scratch: sales and marketing, online shop, logistics, customer care, software release process, testing, communications, legal, HR. This is only possible if you have highly talented, passionate people and courage to start an impossible mission, not to forget the importance of the Jolla community’s support.
After the successful first market launch in Finland with our local partner DNA back in late November 2013 we did several great market launches with our partners, attended many many events, and did hundreds of interviews with media around the globe. During the year we opened up local sales with partners in Estonia, Kazakhstan, Italy, Hong Kong, India, and Russia. As a result of all our sales launches, and partnerships the Jolla smartphone is currently on sale in 250 retails locations and 10 different online stores in 34 countries all around the world.
In the first quarter of the year a big part of our efforts on the business side of things were allocated to the world largest mobile industry event Mobile World Congress. Besides the 7,000+ visitors to our Jolla event stand, we had a full meeting agenda with OEMs, operators, distributors, and journalists. Now we’re looking forward to MWC 2015 in just a few weeks!
After loads of planning work in the summer and the autumn, we launched the plans for our next product, the Jolla Tablet, in November. The project was kicked off with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign on November 19 at Slush 2014.
Ten software updates, growing boat of sailors
Jolla’s aim from the beginning has been to provide regular software updates to Sailfish OS. During 2014 we put out 10 software updates, and three hot fixes to the software. Altogether these included some 350 features, and close to 13 500 individual bugs were fixed. We’re very pleased with where we are now with Sailfish OS, but things did not always go as smoothly as we expected. For example, we underestimated the work needed to successfully complete the Qt5.2 transition, which delayed the release cycle at the latter part of the year.
During 2014 the number of sailors (which we call our Jolla crew members) grew from less than 100 to 128, including team members in Helsinki (our HQ), Tampere, Hong Kong, as well as several individuals around the world. Currently the Jolla staff consists of about 25 different nationalities, with an average age of 33.5. As in most engineering companies, the gender split leans more towards male, but not as heavily as typically: 22% of the Jolla staff is female.
During 2014 we managed also to attract a good amount of investment to our company with two separate investment rounds. Until today Jolla has gathered 34 million euros of investment mostly from angel investors.
The international Jolla community kept growing during 2014, helping us to build the Jolla story. During the year our social media fan base grew significantly: our Facebook followers grew from 39 976 in Jan 1st to 107,728 in Dec 31st. On Twitter our follower base grew by close to 8,000 during the year. Our community platform Together.Jolla.com received 442 744 visits during the year.
During the year our webpage jolla.com received 5.2 million visits from all over the world. Most frequent visitors where from the European countries (Finland and Germany) and from Asia. Lots of visitors came from the US, even though the Jolla phone hasn’t shipped there yet. We even got one visit from Wallis & Futuna!
Jolla Launcher transformed into Stella Launcher
Back in Mobile World Congress 2014 we announced that we will soon offer the Sailfish OS experience as downloadable software to devices running Android OS. In the spring we put out the first Alpha version of the Jolla Launcher, and asked our community to start testing it. To our positive surprise over 13,000 people informed us that they’re interested in trying it out on their Android devices. With a part of this group we continued the testing process and learned a lot.
Later in the year we partnered with Rovio to produce a Jolla Launcher version with Angry Birds Stella branding. The ‘Angry Birds Stella Launcher by Jolla‘ was first released in Chinese app stores Taobao and UC, and in Slush 2014 we made the launcher also available though Google Play Store and Amazon.
Looking forward to 2015 and beyond
Year 2015 will be a great year! We will show to the world that this new kid on the block needs to be taken seriously. One mobile industry analyst recently wrote that only Android and iOS really exist, all others are dead and only stubborn Jolla is making “Jedi moves”. I disagree, although I very much appreciate the statement about Jedi moves. In my opinion disruption is behind the corner, it’s just difficult to see behind that corner. Let me explain why I believe so.
Privacy is becoming mainstream
Firstly, think a while on how important mobile is becoming to all of us. And how fast this change is happening. Smartphones are becoming our banks, credit cards, keys, and almost all our data will be stored in the devices. Mobile is also expanding to smart homes, education, healthcare and more and more sensitive data will be collected to mobile devices. Last August there was an earthquake in Napa, California. After the earthquake, the media released big data about how people woke up during the earthquake. Useful information for sure, but also a bit disturbing if you think how much more data has been collected and how this data could be used also in a wrong way, breaching privacy. People bought these devices to study their own behavior. I am sure that very few thought this information would be public.
Secondly, have a look at the business models of the dominant operating systems: advertising and consumer data collection. Because of this we are losing our privacy. Because of this, smartphones have become human data collection devices and consumers’ life data has been turned into products. And what’s the deal: the mobile OS gets on average 10USD per user in advertising revenue. That is a very small amount of money for an individual’s privacy. I am sure many mobile users would pay many times more to keep their privacy.
Actually the whole concept of a private person is losing its meaning as everyone’s information is public. We are already living in a world where a minister can’t call to a minister colleague in the neighboring country, a business man should not talk business matters on the phone, and a private person is at risk of being the target of mass internet blackmailing. PRIVACY matters in mobile and it is becoming mainstream.
At Jolla, we respect privacy as a core human right, and we build our operating system and devices respecting privacy. We also want to invite other industry players, device manufacturers, application developers, and security and cloud service providers to join the privacy movement.
Mobile commerce is becoming a main driver for the mobile industry
Mobile industry is one of the most dynamic industries I know. Every 5-6 years something changes in the dynamics and totally disrupts the industry. Nokia was leading in the time when the hardware ecosystem was the key in the competition. Then came Apple and Android and created an application based mobile ecosystem. Suddenly hardware became a commodity and the application ecosystem was the key driver for success.
The new mobile commerce era is already here. In many markets 50% of e-commerce is carried out with mobile devices and it is predicted that over 2/3 of the mobile device revenue will come from e-commerce purchases in the near future. Suddenly applications and advertising are not important any more, as the mobile is becoming an entertainment center, shopping center, wallet and a bank. This tremendous change will again disrupt the industry and will bring forward new leaders.
Jolla has all the time been developing its Sailfish OS platform acknowledging the rise of mobile commerce and we believe we are now well positioned to serve the needs of the leading e-commerce companies globally.
Privacy and mobile commerce will be the wind in Jolla’s sails and they support each other. With mobile commerce revenue, there is no need to make money with consumer data, which is becoming an old-fashioned business model. In this new era of mobile internet, you can ask directly from the consumer what he or she wants. No need for data gathering anymore.
Jolla’s focus areas in 2015
This year Jolla will continue to improve the Sailfish OS multitasking user experience, establish a Sailfish OS developer program to support native app development, bring new devices to the market with world-class hardware, and establish major partnerships within the industry.
The Sailfish OS is still young, and needs more stability, better connectivity, and simplification to the user experience. The small Sailfish OS native app ecosystem needs its own program, which guides and supports app developers. The amount of applications is not important, rather the most important applications for people need to be native, and of high quality. Friends, Tweetian, Sailgrande, just to mention a few, are excellent proof points of the potential of native Sailfish OS applications. The stability and usability of Android applications in Sailfish OS is already on a good level, and we continue to improve this.
Our first tablet product will come to the market during Q2/2015, with an excellent Intel chipset, great screen, and new versions of the Sailfish UI. The multitasking experience of the Jolla tablet will be the best in the market. That’s a promise. And, of course, we would not be a device and software company if we did not have new devices on our roadmap. Stay tuned for news about this.
Our long-term target is to develop secure and privacy enforced smart device solutions with a great multitasking user experience. These solutions serve the true needs of consumers in their digital life, whether it is gaming, movies, music or shopping. This is obviously a big task for a small company. And that’s why it is essential for us to partner with major e-commerce players, digital content providers, chipset vendors, operators, and companies specialized in security and privacy.
Finally: a huge thank you to all Jolla sailors, fans, community, industry partners and investors for a great year 2014 and may the winds be excellent for us all during 2015!