Announcement of Jolla phone, between professionalism and failure

After talking about how people reacted to Jolla’s announcement on Monday, I would love to comment on how well Jolla did. As the title suggested, I also have mixed feelings about it. While I was really tired of fanboys battling in forums and comments sections about how Jolla failed or succeeded or failed, I think that Jolla is to be blamed as well.

Being professional …

Compared to Slush while Jolla was still in R&D phase, the marketing part of Jolla clearly improved. From that basic visual teaser we got to show how Sailfish OS works to that beautiful and stylish presentation of the phone, there is a huge gap.

The teaser of the other half was also quite efficient, making people imagine what would be that other half.

And finally, Jolla is creating a brand identity, and buzzwords, like Ambiance, Other Half, to distinguish their products from other manufacturers, just like Apple’s Facetime or «There is an app for that».

And we can say that the announcement was a success in that aspect as well. Compared to Slush, many more media talked about Jolla, including some of the most read newspapers in France. Not only tech blogs, but also generic press is interested by that small startup that only have 70 employees.

… while failing to deliver a clear message

But there were disappointment during that launch. A lot of people did not understood why we only got so little information. Again, as I have told in the other blog post, Jolla was not here to show the complete device. They just wanted to show what was their (crazily awesome) ideas, and want to ask for support from communities.

Both the website and Marc Dillon during the live said that Jolla needs love (thus the Jolla Love Day). They need the community to show to investors that there is a demand for their device. That’s why there is a preordering system.

That’s why the announcement seems to be empty. People are used to big shows presenting a finished device, but that’s only the case for big companies, like Nokia or Samsung. Jolla (and most of the startups ?) would prefer smaller events, to announce their progression instead. And Monday was just a milestone, the milestone of the other half.

While the call to participation and other half concept were pretty well covered during the event, Jolla should have been clearer that that event is not a product announcement. They should have been said that they are still deciding on which CPU they will run, and on the specs in general. Because people were waiting for that and for nothing else.

The sad thing is that these so much awaited specs blocked any other message that should have been passed. People are only reminding that there were no specs during the announcement, instead of remembering of the other half concept, or the awesome pink shirt of Tomi.

This reminds me of what I have seen at Slush, that some sailors got angry because they should have shown the OS earlier because people were waiting for that. Here, people were waiting for specs, they should have been «shown» first, with a clear message that they are still being  worked on, that Sailfish is so optimized than the specs wars is irrelevant here, and that the show is more about something else.


14 thoughts on “Announcement of Jolla phone, between professionalism and failure

  1. The other problem is about the per ordre process … which is not totally clear.
    Why 100euros pack gets a 100euros voucher whereas 40euros pack doesn’t? What will be the use of the 40 euros in that case?

    • I agree with you. It is strange because it is written we don’t pay more than 399€ at the end but what does it mean in the case of the 40€-preorder? It was unclear for me until you got an answer on twitter what about the 100€-preorder.

  2. I agree. There is one more problem and that is that The other half wasnt explained enough. The most articles I have read present it as changable back cover only.
    I wonder if Jolla is going to introduce The other half with qwerty keyboard.

  3. Yes, I agree for the most part. This was actually a pre-announcement of the product, yet to be finalized later. Maybe it was not clear for the big crowd that the hardware choice is not that critical for the “unlike” UX and other half innovation to succeed. Probaly this was also targeted mainly to the community (based on the “marketing” channels used) but the word got out!! Still, the road seems to be clear for SailfishOS to be delivered with a hardware and any other halfs that is needed to make it a truly alternative device, in the tight markets dominated by the big ecosystem thinking. The expectations of the masses don’t change overnight but it is possible to break free from these “brands” and bussiness models where the marketing costs is the biggest cost in the busget. For ex, did you now that the Korean manufacturer uses four times to turnover of Apple on global advertising, marketing and promotion of their products to opreators and users. It surely is a sad world if the relatively small plays do not even have a chance on succeeding in the markets nowdays, despite the fact that their products are better, more intuitive, open and customizable than the existing market domibator’s mass products.

  4. Hello,

    I agree with your analysis.

    The software is amazing, I really want to have it !

    However, “specs” don’t only mean which CPU or how many RAM is there (which is irrelevant here). For those used to Nokia/Symbian, we know that some hardware cannot be replaced by software. Examples are the GPS (my N8 have a fix in seconds while a friend with a Galaxy something needed a minute), the FM transmitter (I don’t have bluetooth in my car…) or the Camera (will be hard coming from N8). I can trust them they will put good hardware in it, so no problem for me, I can see later for these info.
    But the main piece of hardware for a phone is which networks it is compatible with ? For France it should be OK, but lot of people in the US were expecting this information, as there are lot of carriers there with differents networks. Who knows if the device will work with theirs ?

    Then, about the other half, the concept is really good and interesting (should I say refreshing ? ;). Simple use: allow tens of colors for the phone, Advanced use: extend the hardware. The principle is well explained. Everyone gets it : The sky is the limit…. but the technology too is a limit an nothing was said about it.
    * If it is only without contacts like NFC, then a keyboard can be done, and probably a FM transmitter too (not that much data).
    * If you want to add a Xenon flash, then you need power (a lot!), so a connector to reach directly the battery is needed.
    * If you want to had a hard drive with decent performances, then a USB2 connection is the minimum.
    * Finally, if you want to put a pico-projector or HDMI output with a decent resolution/framerate, then the dataflow is so huge that something like HDMI or DSI is requiered.
    Will all these connections be possible ? No one knows… It may even not be defined yet.
    What a “hardware extended” other half could look like ? Not even some drawings were shown, no need for a prototype. A video could have illustrated all that perfectly, without the need of having the hardware ready.
    So I still don’t know what I could do with the other half, despite having tons of ideas.

    Communication is something really difficult in general, and it seems that they needed the support from the community before being ready to unveil enough details, hence this event.

    Anyway, if I take the time to write this (way too long) comment here, it is because I am fan, and really would like them to succeed. They have shown the best software I know so far, but I can’t make my mind about the hardware yet (which is somewhat frustating!).

    Thanks for your feedback from the event, and for info about Jolla in general !


    • Hello Zeta,

      To reassure you, I have to say that we discussed about that, that people at Jolla are thinking about that.

      What they mean by the sky is the limit is really that they don’t want to have a limiting technology right now.

      Several words comes out from the discussion, like NFC and USB, or combining both. But for screen or TV out, they are still thinking.

      We will see what they come out with 🙂

  5. LOL! I must say I disagree about your last statement. No one has forgotten about other Half. There is ALOT of talk about that in TMO 😛

    And I can understand why they tell what SoC etc. There bigger companys today are evil bastards.

    If they give that info they for sure would have alot of Copycats and/or companys who would buy out the SoC:s to block them from buying it.

  6. Pingback: Smartphone Jolla lançado : sua outra metade « Roberto Colistete Jr.

  7. Read your write up and I can say while the most part I agree with you, there are some elements of Jolla’s approach which one can say weren’t as polished as say Apple’s. It’s not an issue I would beat them over the head with. Jolla is primarily made up to highly skilled engineers, hence their focus is and rightfully so on getting to us the best product which they can deliver. Unfortunately, consumers are advertized to death by large companies seeking to squeeze every cent out of them, only to be bombarded again in a few months with a new and updated product. The cycle is vicious. Jolla is new to the business, but also realistic. They have, whether persons choose to admit it or not raised the bar on what a mobile OS can be.

    There has been no mobile OS since iOS/Android which has generated such passionate followers like Jolla. Jolla followers will support them whether or not Jolla does the Apple-esque (and it’s gotten very old) fluffy blitz we see at WWDC, which apparently failed to deliver anything, which to my mind, would cause me to be interested.

    Would we like to know if Jolla’s phone uses Snapdragon/Intel chips ? yes,
    Would we like to know what type of screen 720p/1080p the Jolla phone will come with? I guess so.
    What about battery life ? Camera ? and the list can go on and on. As Jolla has said on more than one occasion, it’s about perfectly complimenting their software with hardware. Personally i think just showing a working model within 2 years of existence is a feat all of its’ own, one that other manufacturers and players in the game should watch closely. What Jolla has done is refreshing, and can only get better.

    I have read many boards where persons are predicting Jolla will fail, and that their flagship is nothing but vaporware, a assertion which is yet to be quantitatively proven. One can go out on a limb and and safely state that many are not only surprised, but rather scared of the possibilities of what Jolla is bringing to the table. There’s no international law which states there can only be 2 mobile OS’s around. that in mind Jolla is to be congratulated for bringing the unlike to the fore.

    Jolla Love Day was a definite shot across the bow of the bigger players in the market, one which should be taken seriously. The true supporters will wait, the spec hunters can go pick from the list of thousand of generic Android devices out there, that a dead issue anyways. Jolla has finally made me not want to yawn in the face of mobile tech.

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