A reply to «Why do i care a lot about»

ZogG, an active member of Maemo community, shared his point of view about Jolla, and the recently announced specs of the Jolla phone. He pointed out many points that used to be criticized by other people, and underlined some others, that would prevent him in buying the phone itself, or maybe any other member of TMO (Talk dot Maemo dot Org).

Disclaimer: I’m a Jolla fan, and worked for Jolla during summer. I have seen both the inside and the outside of the company and am strongly supporting their initiative by either open-source contribution, or participating in JollaFr, French Jolla community.

Just like ZogG, I will start with Jolla and the community.

Jolla, where buisness and community collides

Talking with Jolla is usually very easy. They can be pinged on Twitter easily and members of the company are often on IRC, discussing with other members on various topics. People at Jolla also seems to read blogs, forums, but they never give their opinion or even reply on these media. Usually, Sailors only speaks through Twitter for official announcements and Q/A, IRC for Nemo related, or just for discussing, and in the mailing lists for technical support, that gives the impression that they don’t listen at all about suggestions. Blog posts, long threads at TMO seems to be ignored.

In my opinion, the problem is related to the media. Jolla don’t have an army of community managers to read, comment, reply and take feedback from all the blog posts that are posted all around the world. They don’t have much time either to follow long and lengthy threads on TMO. Sadly, this leads to the impression that they just listen and never take feedback in consideration.

A simple and efficient way of fixing this would be to use more verbose media to communicate. An official blog, official forums could be nice, even if there are no moderators in the forum at first. At least, the community would have a place to express itself, and feel closer to Jolla. The blog could give Jolla more place to write official messages than just tweets. Weekly or monthly posts, answering the most trendy topics on the forum, could be an efficient way of dealing with frustration of the community.

ZogG also pointed out the topic of roadmap and open-source project. While Mer and Nemo are open-source project, Sailfish OS isn’t, and Jolla is free not to publish any roadmap. Actually, Jolla is doing buisness, and just like any company, they have the right of keeping everything for themselves. Did Apple revealed anything about their deals with manufacturers, specs, or operators that have exclusive partnership before releasing (not announcing) the iPhone. No. So do Jolla. They are just doing simple buisness. And that’s frustrating.

That’s the problem. Buisness and community have conflicting intentions. For a good buisness, the company should keep a lot to itself, revealing interesting parts only when required, for maintaining a healthy community, the company should share the maximum of information, for the community to be able to support the company.

As a start-up, Jolla won’t risk their buisness and innovation to be stolen by others, so the community part is coming after. I don’t think that Jolla is expecting anything right now from TMO, or any other community group. Their story just aggregated these communities, and they managed to keep it relatively healthy, even if there are complains here and there. However, the role of the community might increase greatly after the release, when the buisness part is settled.

To answer to ZogG, I think that noone knows if there will be support from Jolla. As it is right now, the Jolla phone is an experiment. It is a test for Jolla to see if the market needs yet another OS. The most important question is if Jolla will survive the year. If they survive, then support will come, as they can’t afford loosing clients.

Android, the double-edged sword

ZogG then gave a section to Android. In short, he pointed out 4 points. The first point refers to the fact that a developer is usually lazy, and won’t port to Sailfish an Android app. That’s true, especially because Jolla have 0% marketshare right now. Having the Android VM was also a reason for many tech writers to say that Sailfish is useless, since they could have used the whole Android stack and just write a small UX layer on top of Android instead of developing yet another OS. But if Sailfish gets more marketshare, then the Android VM might become a drawback for the developer, because his / her app might get downvoted if it do not integrates with Sailfish well.

ZogG then said that having Android VM is rather pointless without the official stores like Google or Amazon. The good Android apps aren’t likely to be found on 3rd party stores. This can leads to piracy, because apps can’t be found with official channels. And as we all know, piracy is bad, especially for Jolla because piracy on their platform might hurt their brand reputation. That was his 2nd and 3rd point.

The last point is more blurry. ZogG seems to say that Android compatibility is more a marketing thing. That if Sailfish is fully Android compatible (installable on Android phones, and that can run Android apps), then why not port it on the N950. Well, in my opinion, it is more about the fact that Sailfish can be ported with some effort, and can be used by device manufacturers, and not about having the community doing ports.

Specs, more specs

The last point, that is, in ZogG’s opinion, the most critical point is about specs. ZogG underlined the fact that the specs are average, and indeed, they are. He raised a couple of interesting questions though. The most important one is about the support. He doubts that a hardware that looks old could be supported for a long time. Indeed, the N9 was not supported, maybe because of it’s poor hardware. But the fact that the N900 is community-supported several years after the release, shows that hardware have nothing to do with supporting timeframe. Jolla will support the device as long as they need (if they can).

The second question is about multitasking. 1 Go of RAM seems to be low indeed. Third parties might do shitty apps that do not take the memory in consideration, indeed. But Jolla sailors are good at making software and 1 Go of RAM is enough in my opinion, especially that the N9, as a multitasking king, is able to manage 10+ apps with the same quantity of RAM.

The real problem with specs is not really about if the Jolla ships with enough specs or not. It is more about the whole mobile industry that clouded innovation, or even the notion of good phone, by mountain of specs. The iPhone is the only one that escaped this battle. It still ships with 1 Go of RAM but noone complained. Noone complained either when they said that the new 5S was shipping with a dual core CPU. So why judge a phone by the specs.

I have the chance of seeing the phone at Jolla love day. The thing that shocked me the most was not the screen. I found it to be really good, and didn’t saw any pixels. It was not the quantity of RAM or the CPU either, as … I didn’t knew them. The phone was fast, and was doing proper multitasking. Once again, it is not about specs, but about user experience. If the user is happy with the phone, then why do you need huge specs ?

(Remark, the thing that shocked me the most was the size of the phone)

You have the right of feeling fooled ZogG, you have the right to say that you are participating in an experiment, because yes, it is one. Jolla is experimenting with the mobile market, and you knew it. However, don’t feel fooled by specs, because it is the other players that are fooling you with crappy phones boasting huge specs.

And by the way, you cannot say that the phone is unfinished because it have some specs. You can say that the phone might be bad, or that it might not compete with Android phones in term of raw power, but it is as finished as any other phone. 🙂

In short

  • Agree with ZogG about communication. Jolla needs to communicate more, especially to communities. Involving the community is important
  • Disagree with ZogG’s fears. Jolla is doing an experiment. They don’t open or do proper roadmap because they are doing buisness. Here, you are supporting a start-up, not trying to get a clear vision of their strategy, simply because, for a start-up, there is no strategy.
  • Agree with ZogG’s analysis on Android. Non-native apps hurts the Sailfish UX. And Android virtual machine brings the drawbacks of Android, like piracy, or maybe viruses.
  • Disagree  with ZogG’s fears about support. It is not the specs that tells the degree of support, more the health of the company, and resources allocated to please consumers.
  • Disagree with ZogG’s reaction about specs. We don’t use a product based on specs (except if we are doing high performance computing). We use a product based on the experience. And the Jolla provides a premium experience.

Thanks ZogG for explaining your fears and criticism towards Jolla, they are really valuable. And I hope that I understood them, and that this reply can create constructive discussion towards Jolla.



18 thoughts on “A reply to «Why do i care a lot about»

  1. Although ZogG’s or Sfiet didn’t discuss about phone price vs specs ratio, I find it interesting how people are outraged about its “high price”. Jolla is making small quantities of this phone, and that probably means factories will take more money per one device because they have to start production for this little amount of phones. This is not (yet) phone for the masses like iphones or android cheapos.

    I disagree on “Jolla needs to communicate more”. Would it really be better looking for community to see Jolla correct their sayings or plans changes on twitter. Like “screen will be 4 inch, no wait a minute its 4.5 inch”. Let them do their stuff ready and be patient! 😀

    • At least they need to communicate in some sense that they would integrate their community more. They have the best community in the world, that can help them evangelize the average Joe, and they might be wasting the potential.

      • Agree fully. They need a channel, where

        1) discussion and feedback is more organized and can be answered centrally. Show that you are receiving the feedback. Twitter is not sufficient.
        2) they can actively share information also in Finnish (I understand some people being annoyed that Jolla is mainly covered by Finnish press. If they share additional info, share or hint about it in other channels.
        3) Reveal as much as possible. Or make blogs on certain items that cannot be revealed. Eg “working as a chief of sourcing in start-up”, what needs to be taken into account. They can open up some of their challenges to engage fans to their work and relate to the challenges.
        4) make a public communication roadmap: around when the product is shipped, when do they try to reveal more specs and if it does not happen, tell the rough reason. This is extremely difficult to implement.

        This channel can be via a collection of fan blogs for instance, if they want to mimimize resource use. Send a blog post to each fan blog and let them gather feedback for intance and then reply with another blog post.

        What I would recommend to test is to gather a small nr of enthusiast outsiders to review their communication before launching. Be sure to pick some of the people among the more critical ones. This is tricky, but could be very useful. They are not publicly listed company and can do this from legal pov.

        They want to create a movement and it takes some investment. They are so close to launching the device that they should be able to have a full-time community rep.

        Be unlike.

  2. Hi,
    thanks for your good point of view. 🙂

    I have only one conflict:
    “But Jolla sailors are good at making software and 1 Go of RAM is enough in my opinion, especially that the N9, as a multitasking king, is able to manage 10+ apps with the same quantity of RAM.”

    Compare Jolla phone with N9 isn’t simply.

    I use N9 strongly every day. 10 running apps is normal for me. Many of those “apps” is browser window – memory eater => I count each browser window as app. But this is near of limit. When SWAP is full, phone freeze. (And when I close all apps, SWAP is still full – but this is N9 bug and nobody fix it. 😦 )

    Sometimes i run ~15 apps together. But all apps are native apps. When on Jolla phone is possible, i want run few Android apps too (nonexist apps on N9). IMHO Android app in sandbox is memory eater too. And not, I not need Android ram-eat games.

    Besides normal apps i have installed/running many headless/daemon apps for better usability (share plugins, IM plugins, EventFeeds extensions, BatteryUsage, Profilematic, FirewallPRO, PhoneAssistant, EasyAnswer, SMSTone, SuperSMS, FotoShare, BillBoard, Unrestricted-UI extensions, .. ).

    Simply: As very satisfied N9 user (but I know multitask limits) I am expecting some more then i may do on my old N9. For other-OS users Jolla phone is something better, but for me ? And many people who was prepaid phone are N9 users.

    Yes, in compare with N9: dual cpu is big improvements and no need more cores, display is OK for me, +uSD card, awesome other_half, user replaceable battery with corresponding capacity .. but i see limits in my multitask usability. 🙂

    How much is price of phone higher with 2GB RAM ? $50 ? IMHO is better take more RAM to first phone (prepaid users are geeks, want it), get good response from users and get statistics data about RAM usage .. and next round of devices maybe with 1GB if enough. Better then get bad response a not know what level of RAM is enough .. 🙂

    Anyway I have prepaid $100 version and I look forward to Christmas. 🙂

  3. Jolla says “give us ideas” but you don’t know what they take. For sure, it is impossible to change the hardware because people complain about it but we can imagine it works for the software.

    I think the community has nothing to say about the hardware now, it will have to provide a feedback for a second phone if ever there is one. But the community can improve the software a lot… and probably already inspired some ideas but we don’t know which ones.

  4. What ZogG and others seem to forget in the specs comparison is the price.

    ZogG mentioned the HTC Holiday from back in 2011 which eventually got released on various carriers under different names such as the HTC Vivid, Raider and Velocity 4G. It was a flagship model back then coming in at about €150-200 more than the Jolla.

    People expecting some kick-ass flagship phone for €399 from a small startup are deluded.

    I hope Jolla on the other hand do take the ‘outrage’ onboard as it’s pretty clear there’s demand for a more expensive model with a higer-res screen and more RAM, whether it’s actually needed or not. Some people just look at the specs.

  5. Skimmed through quickly, missed much of the 1st half, points like this are misleading:

    I have the chance of seeing the phone at Jolla love day.
    *The thing that shocked me the most was not the screen. I found it to be really good, and didn’t saw any pixels.
    *(Remark, the thing that shocked me the most was the size of the phone)

    At Jolla Love Day in May, the hw/build of the phone was still FAR from final.
    I disagree with quite few other points, but no time lately, sadly…

  6. By the way, you said the size was shocking so I imagine it was because it is large. By curiosity, can I know what is your phone now in order to have an idea about how large was the previous version? 😉

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