In a somewhat surprising move, Jolla CEO Tomi Pienimäki has confirmed that his company plans to allow Android owners to install Sailfish OS on their devices. The move could enable Sailfish to quickly gain market share, as well as providing an incentive for Android developers to contribute to the open source platform.
The announcement from Jolla of wide-scale Android app compatibility did not come as much of a shock. Access to a large app ecosystem was vital if the company is to attract users to its platform in significant numbers.
Jolla is ultimately in the business of selling phones. On the face of it, actively encouraging the use of one of its most prized assets on rivals’ devices is therefore something of a surprise.
The news will only be of interest to those who are happy rooting their Android device. Whilst this is a sizable market, the move is not likely to significantly affect sales of Jolla-branded handsets.
By actively encouraging Android users to install Sailfish OS on their devices, Jolla is positioning themselves as more open than Google, who are seeking to limit fragmentation.
From one perspective, Jolla would actually welcome a degree of fragmentation in the short-term. If there were lots of different versions of Sailfish OS running on a variety of devices, then the company would have overcome its biggest obstacle and established a notable market share.
As Sailfish OS is in its infancy compared with Android, it probably won’t be a good idea to install the new platform on a device you rely on daily. But there can be little doubting that this is a compelling insurgent, so experimenting with Sailfish on a second phone or tablet is tempting.