Jolla hits profitability ahead of turning ten, eyes growth beyond mobile

A milestone for Jolla, the Finnish startup behind the Sailfish OS — which fashioned, almost a decade ago, when a band of Nokia staffers left to maintain the torch burning for a mobile linux-based various to Google’s Android — immediately it’s saying hitting profitability.

The mobile OS licensing startup describes 2020 as a “turning point” for the enterprise — reporting revenues that grew 53% YoY, and EBITDA (which offers a snapshot of operational effectivity) standing at 34%.

It has a brand new iron within the hearth too now — having lately began providing a brand new licensing product (known as AppSupport for Linux Platforms) which, because the identify suggests, can present linux platforms with standalone compatibility with common Android functions — with out a buyer needing to licence the total Sailfish OS (the latter has of course baked in Android app compatibility since 2013).

Jolla says AppSupport has had some “strong” early curiosity from automotive firms on the lookout for options to develop their in-case infotainment programs — because it affords a means for embedded Linux-compatible platform the aptitude to run Android apps while not having to go for Google’s automotive choices. And whereas loads of automotive makers have opted for Android, there are nonetheless gamers Jolla may web for its ‘Google-free’ various.

Embedded linux programs additionally run in loads of different locations, too, so it’s hopeful of wider demand. The software program might be used to allow an IoT machine to run a very common app, for instance, as a price add for patrons.

“Jolla is doing fine,” says CEO and co-founder Sami Pienimäki. “I’m joyful to see the corporate turning worthwhile final yr formally.

“In general it’s the overall maturity of the asset and the company that we start to have customers here and there — and it’s been honestly a while that we’ve been pushing this,” he goes, fleshing out the explanations behind the optimistic numbers with trademark understatement. “The firm is turning ten years in October so it’s been a protracted journey. And as a result of of that we’ve been steadily bettering our effectivity and our income.

“Our revenue grew over 50% since 2019 to 2020 and we made €5.4M revenue. At the same time the cost base of the operation has stablized quite well so the sum of those resulted to nice profitability.”

While the buyer mobile OS market has — for years — been virtually totally sewn up by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, Jolla licenses its open supply Sailfish OS to governments and enterprise as a substitute platform they’ll form to their wants — with out requiring any involvement of Google.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia was one of the early markets that tapped in.

The case for digital sovereignty normally — and an impartial (non-US-based) mobile OS platform supplier, particularly — has been strengthened lately as geopolitical tensions have performed out through the medium of tech platforms; resulting in, in some circumstances, notorious bans on international firms having the ability to entry US-based applied sciences.

In a associated improvement this summer, China’s Huawei launched its personal Android various for smartphones, which it’s known as HarmonyOS.

Pienimäki is welcoming of that particular improvement — couching it as a validation of the market wherein Sailfish performs.

“I wouldn’t necessarily see Huawei coming out with the HarmonyOS value proposition and the technology as a competitor to us — I think it’s more proving the point that there is appetite in the market for something else than Android itself,” he says after we ask whether or not HarmonyOS dangers consuming Sailfish’s lunch.

“They are tapping into that market and we are tapping into that market. And I think both of our strategies and messages support each other very firmly.”

Jolla has been engaged on promoting Sailfish into the Chinese marketplace for a number of years — and that looked for enterprise stays a piece in progress at this stage. But, once more, Pienimäki says Jolla doesn’t see Huawei’s transfer as any form of blocker to its ambitions of licensing its Android various within the Far East.

“The way we see the Chinese market in general is that it’s been always open to healthy competition and there is always competing solutions — actually heavily competing solutions — in the Chinese market. And Huawei’s offering one and we are happy to offer Sailfish OS for this very big, challenging market as well.”

“We do have good relationships there and we are building a case together with our local partners also to access the China market,” he provides. “I think in general it’s also very good that big corporations like Huawei really recognize this opportunity in general — and this shapes the overall industry so that you don’t need to, by default, opt into Android always. There are other alternatives around.”

On AppSupport, Jolla says the automative sector is “actively looking for such solutions”, noting that the “digital cockpit is a key differentiator for automotive markers — and arguing that makes it a strategically vital piece for them to personal and management.

“There’s been a lot of, let’s say, positive vibes in that sector in the past few years — new comers on the block like Tesla have really shaken the industry so that the traditional vendors need to think differently about how and what kind of user experience they provide in the cockpit,” he suggests.

“That’s been heavily invested and rapidly developing in the past years but I’m going to emphasize that at the same time, with our limited resources, we’re just learning where the opportunities for this technology are. Automative seems to have a lot of appetite but then [we also see potential in] other sectors — IoT… heavy industry as well… we are openly exploring opportunities… but as we know automotive is very hot at the moment.”

“There is plenty of general linux OS base in the world for which we are offering a good additional piece of technology so that those operating solutions can actually also tap into — for example — selected applications. You can think of like running the likes of Spotify or Netflix or some communications solutions specific for a certain sector,” he goes on.

“Most of those applications are naturally available both for iOS and Android platforms. And those applications as they simply exist the capability to run those applications independently on top of a linux platform — that creates a lot of interest.”

In one other improvement, Jolla is within the course of of elevating a brand new growth financing spherical — it’s concentrating on €20M — to help its push to market AppSupport and likewise to place in direction of additional rising its Sailfish licensing enterprise.

It sees growth potential for Sailfish in Europe, which stays the largest marketplace for licensing the mobile OS. Pienimäki additionally says it’s seeing “good development” in sure components of Africa. Nor has it given up on its ambitions to crack into China.

The growth spherical was opened to traders in the summertime and hasn’t but closed — however Jolla is assured of nailing the increase.

“We are really turning a next chapter in the Jolla story so exploring to new emerging opportunities — that requires capital and that’s what are looking for. There’s plenty of money available these days, in the investor front, and we are seeing good traction there together with the investment bank with whom we are working,” says Pienimäki.

“There’s definitely an appetite for this and that will definitely put us in a better position to invest further — both to Sailfish OS and the AppSupport technology. And in particular to the go-to market operation — to make this technology available for more people out there in the market.”


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