Indian smartphone manufacturer Intex has licensed the Sailfish OS from the Finnish corp Jolla to release Sailfish based smartphones by the end of this year, reports Techcrunch. The first smartphone to launch under this initiative will be called Aqua Fish and will be available in September this year. The phone will be priced at less than Rs 10,000.
Interestingly, earlier this month, Jolla announced that it would stop making devices itself, and would instead focus on developing the Sailfish software and on the OS licensing business. As a part of this, the company announced Sailfish India, a ‘regional mobile ecosystem initiative’ with partners including Intex Technologies, Times Internet and Snapdeal.
Note that Jolla partnered with Snapdeal in March to promote Sailfish OS in India. As a part of this alliance, Snapdeal would get a ‘privileged license’ to Sailfish OS to build its own mobile offerings using the OS’s features. Basically, Snapdeal would get an OS to put on its self-branded phones, if it indeed planned to do this.
Other than this, Jolla mentions that Snapdeal will get to integrate its app in a prominent location in the Sailfish OS interface. Similarly Times Internet’s music service Gaana will also come preloaded on the phone. The company further mentions it has seen a lot of interest from device vendors, mobile operators and digital media houses in India for its operating systems. Looks like Jolla is basically looking for a revenue sharing agreement with device manufacturers, local services and media houses etc., which should also enable it to offer subsidised phones.
The Sailfish OS is rather new, and granted it is based on the Linux kernel which should theoretically allow any Linux based program to run by recompiling for it, not many apps are specifically made for the platform, or to take advantage of its touch screen interface. The platform does not have the advantage of using Play store apps either, as the full list of Android apps supported by it is less than 100. So what unique can it offer to drive user adoption?
Primarily, it looks like the company will want to partner with media houses and other such services to offer them premium spots on the phone. Granted this will likely make the phones cheaper for the end user, but what else? From a consumer point of view, the Android option is far more appealing; a decent Android smartphone can be had for less than Rs 6000 and the OS has a well developed and established ecosystem.
Note that there are other competitors vying for a slice of the Indian smartphone market, which is largely dominated by Android. ZTE Open, which runs the Firefox OS had also launched in India in October 2013, post which Spice launched a Firefox OS powered smartphone in August last year. Similarly, Microsoft has also been trying to woo the Indian market with at least three moderately priced devices, and initiatives like bringing its digital assistant Cortana to its users in the country.