Jolla signs up India's Intex as first Sailfish OS licensee

The developer of an Android alternative is targeting a market that is viewed as price-sensitive but growing fast

Jolla, the Finnish developer of an Android alternative, has signed Indian smartphone vendor Intex Technologies as the first licensee for its Sailfish OS.

The company also announced Thursday at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai that its new Sailfish OS 2.0 is now available for licensing with a scalable 4G LTE reference platform.

Jolla is talking to a number of potential partners but the first licensee so far is Intex, which will aim to make an affordable phone at a price around rupees 10,000 (US$158), company spokesman Juhani Lassila said Thursday.

Intex plans to announce Sailfish-based products later in the year. The two companies are also working on building an ecosystem for Indian users, including by integrating Snapdeal, a top Indian online marketplace, and Times Internet, a content portal, in a prominent location in the user interface of the operating system. The new version of the OS has a PartnerSpace, a premium location directly in the OS for various local services, Jolla said.

Jolla has also unveiled reference design platforms that it expects Intex and other partners will build upon. The designs are based on Qualcomm 200, 600, and 800 Snapdragon chips and span various price points, and will support 4G LTE.

Jolla was founded in 2011 by former employees of Nokia who wanted to continue the development work done by the Finnish phone maker on the MeeGo operating system. It is one of a number of Android alternative operating systems, including Tizen backed by Samsung Electronics and the Firefox OS from Mozilla.

The announcement by Jolla comes ahead of reports that Google will be launching in India a mid-range Android One phone that at about US$200 will be more expensive than the original $100 Android One phone it launched last year in the country.

Jolla launched its own smartphone running the operating system in 2013 and demonstrated earlier this year a tablet running the OS.

Intex is the second largest Indian smartphone vendor after Micromax, according to data from IDC for the fourth quarter of 2014.

With the Sailfish OS 2.0, the OS now powers both tablets and smartphones, Jolla said in a blog post. The operating system offers improved Android application compatibility and browser experience, it added.

Jolla said earlier this month that under a corporate reorganization a new company was being set up for Jolla's device business, while it would focus on the development and licensing of the operating system.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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