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. 🙂
- 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.