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The Last Independent Mobile OS


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard:
The year was 2010 and the future of mobile computing was looking bright. The iPhone was barely three years old, Google's Android had yet to swallow the smartphone market whole, and half a dozen alternative mobile operating systems -- many of which were devoutly open source -- were preparing for launch. Eight years on, you probably haven't even heard of most of these alternative mobile operating systems, much less use them. Today, Android and iOS dominate the global smartphone market and account for 99.9 percent of mobile operating systems. Even Microsoft and Blackberry, longtime players in the mobile space with massive revenue streams, have all but left the space. Then there's Jolla, the small Finnish tech company behind Sailfish OS, which it bills as the "last independent alternative mobile operating system." Jolla has had to walk itself back from the edge of destruction several times over the course of its seven year existence, and each time it has emerged battered, but more determined than ever to carve out a spot in the world for a truly independent, open source mobile operating system. 

Jolla's Sailfish OS rose from the ashes of Nokia and Intel's ill-fated collaboration, MeeGo. The MeeGo project launched in 2010 in an attempt to merge Intel's Linux-based Moblin OS and Nokia's Maemo software platform into a single open-source mobile operating system that could take on Google. By 2011, Android had already surpassed Nokia in the smartphone market, a fact that wasn't lost on Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop, who in a memo described the company as standing on a "burning platform." Nokia only ever released one phone running MeeGo: the Nokia N9, which ended up being well received despite its limited release. But it was too little, too late. By 2011, Nokia was bleeding talent and it was clear that MeeGo wasn't going to keep the company competitive in the rapidly changing smartphone market. In a last-ditch effort, Nokia struck a partnership with Microsoft to provide the hardware for its next generation of Windows Phones, abandoning MeeGo entirely. The same couldn't be said for those developers who had worked on MeeGo and, before that, an open source mobile OS called Mer, based on Intel's Maemo system. In October 2011, three developers that had worked on Mer sent a message on a mailing list calling for the creation of a "MeeGo 2.0." At the same time, developer Sami Pienimaki and two others left Nokia to found their own company, which would use this new version of MeeGo as the basis for an open source mobile OS. And thus, Sailfish was born. In a cheeky homage to the "burning platform" memo, Pienimaki and his fellow defectors decided to name their company Jolla, a Finnish word connoting a small boat or life raft.
Jolla has since turned to Russia and China, both of which were hungry for a secure alternative to Google-based systems. In late 2016, Sailfish OS achieved domestic certification in Russia for government and corporate us. Around the same time, Sailfish was also making moves in China. In early 2017, the Sailfish China Consortium gained the exclusive rights and license to develop a Chinese OS based on Sailfish.

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