Jolla: apps are making our smartphones dumb

Why Jolla is taking the power back from Apple and Google
Marc Dillon: It's time to level the playing field

"Brave" is the word we used to describe Jolla's go-it-alone smartphone in our hands on review. According to the company's co-founder Marc Dillon, we're far from the first.

"It was something we had to do. It takes a lot of work and a lot of passion and really bringing everything that we have into this. We've put our whole lives into this company," he said.

Jolla is the David against Goliath. It's a phone that wants to prove we can have options beyond Android and iOS, that things have got stale in a world where Google and Apple have the stranglehold on the smartphone market.

But the Jolla phone itself is just a vessel - it's Sailfish OS, lying within, that's the open source game-changer. So why didn't the Jolla team just push out its operating system to existing devices rather than having to build a phone as well?

"I thought about it a lot," says Dillon. "Especially in the early days when we lost our chipset [the company moving to Qualcomm in late 2012]. But the fact of that matter is that you need to have a flagship device, and an iconic device, in order to make it real. Why would someone take it into use, especially coming from a small company, if there's not a proof that it can turn into a consumer product?"


Jolla: a phone of two halves

Weird fishes

With its gesture-based design, Sailfish OS is built so users can operate it with one hand. It's also designed to be more intuitive in the way it uses multi-tasking and live information on apps.

You might already know that Sailfish began its life as the Linux-based operating system MeeGo, which was ditched by The Linux Foundation in favour of Tizen. And with Nokia also turning its back on the OS after the N9 (its first and last MeeGo device), it seemed dead in the water - until a few characters from the MeeGo team broke away from Nokia to form Jolla.

Though only loosely based on MeeGo, Jolla is considered by many to be a spiritual successor to the N9. "I think that we did some evolution and some revolution on top of those ideas," says Dillon when we ask to what extent that's true.

But Jolla is here to prove more than that it can resurrect a dead OS. To put it bluntly, it's here to show us why smartphones have become boring.

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.