Today we have had an interview scheduled with Marc Dillon; Co-founder and head of software at Jolla, so we decided to do a simple Skype call and make it happen!
The call went absolutely fantastic despite Marc’s tight schedule we had a good 30 minute talk about all the aspects needed.
Without further ado, let’s cut to the chase:
JollaUsers: Hello Marc!
Thanks for taking the time and doing this interview with us despite being absolutely busy in the company as you told me “We have a lot of work to do” while I was in Finland!
- Marc Dillon: My pleasure!
JollaUsers: Why haven’t I interviewed you in Finland? Because we were having so much fun and I was overly excited to see you all so let’s do this here! And this one is not going to be anything “pro”. It’s a friendly chat between us for our readers so they can have a clearer image of the things going on. Talk about open source right? We are open source, we are unlike! 😉
Nice interview you had on Monday in Bettina’s Swedish Program, we really enjoyed seeing you once again brightening a place by your presence (Nice new style also!)
Since there hasn’t been much futuristic questions in the talk show about Jolla and its future, we are going to do the honor and ask you about it.
– What is the next big thing in your minds? Are we going to have a hint here or we need to wait until MWC and see everything in Barcelona? Because everyone is estimating to see something more than just a software tweak for Sailfish or another presentation about the Jolla phone. If you please give us a brief explanation?
- Marc Dillon: We do have some exciting announcements at MWC this year and I’m really looking forward to that, I can’t give away too much at the moment because that is the world’s biggest stage for these kinds of announcements but we already have a strong presence there, we’re making a lot of partnerships, meetings and discussions and we’re really excited, and this is our first big event now that we have the product in our hands. So there are a lot of ways that we can reach new markets and more people and provide better experience to those who have already bought the Jolla device as good partners, but everybody in the industry is there at MWC so one of the biggest targets for us is to make sure that we’re able to make new partnerships and new agreements and MWC is a good place for that!
JollaUsers: Can you tell us about this “OtherHalf” in a bit of details? I know we have all the technical details now but we never got to know what went behind it. I mean, it’s totally a new thing to have ability to add an actual hardware at the back of your phone without something extra hanging out of your phone! That must have been tough to establish. Was it an idea from the day 1 or it came through in different occasions/processes?
- Marc: The Other Half plan is ramping up and making progress; there will be some Otherhalves available to purchase soon and also the SDK and the way of creating otherhalves to have additional hardware will be available soon. We have the contest over at together.jolla.com That I’m going to be making a favorite anytime now, there’s really exciting stuff over there (Link) and this is the point where we’re actually really starting to see the platform that we have, create new innovation opportunities.There are some things there that are not really going to be achievable but they’re fantastic and we’re really looking forward in the technology and the things that could be accomplished. But there are also some really grounded things there that I think could really add a lot of opportunity for people/users!About the idea of OtherHalf, My perception of how it happened is that we started saying: how do we make personalization in the phone and how do we make it so that you can feel like not only it’s yours but also it reflexes how you feel and we blended it with Ambience where we created this way of setting the mood from a photograph and then we realized that it can actually go out to the other half [outside of the device] , and you can change your OtherHalf in order to change not only your mood but change the way that you’re using the device, if you’re using it at work or home you might have different Otherhalves for them and then from there we saw this great opportunity to have a connection to be able to get software from the store so you don’t have to have everything just on the OtherHalf but you can put anything you want into the software, keep it up to date and then use The OtherHalf in order to install those stuff and this lead to not only the branding opportunity which would allow you to put something on the outside of your phone if you’re a fan of a rock band or a particular brand or maybe a game, so that people could see what you’re supporting from the outside of your phone and you will be able to show that you’re a fan of something, but then you’ll also get something special on the inside and it also allows the content provider to understand that somebody bought exactly this Other Half and this particular other Half is one instance of that content and this leads also to a customization point of view which is that if a company wanted to make their own smartphone because they have a strong brand and they have some other products labeled with that brand, traditionally it’s very difficult to get a device that has any kind of real representation of their brand like the look and feel, the way of using it and the content. So making a phone that stands out is a very big proposition and for us we realized that it could be actually rather simple to create a standard interface for customization that starts with the hardware and the look and feel and the materials of the outside and then slips forward to the software and the way of using the device the look and feel of the inside.Customization has been a big business in mobile industry and it’s very difficult because not only is it difficult to make a custom phone from scratch or even from an existing device, it takes a lot of certification and different kind of production techniques and a lot of money essentially. It also allowed us to very well define a standard interface of customization so we could now go and offer it [for instance] to an operator that wants to have a phone, we could simply put all of their customizations linked to their specified Otherhalf and then it’s basically a simple post production issue where made The Other Half with the phone and with a simple reboot put a custom sleeve on to the package and now all of a sudden you have a custom branded device that has different content for different parties.
JollaUsers: And when we managed to see an opened up Jolla phone for the first time, there were more i2c lookalike connectors than the ones visible on the outside! What are those hidden ones?
- Marc: I think what you were looking at was probably some of the production interfaces that were used when we were in the factory producing the device, there’s nothing really hidden under the plastic that has much opportunity for being used so that’s why they’re covered!
JollaUsers: Okay! now I have heard some stuff from the “bad media” in Finland and some other places and some negativity towards Jolla! Does this push you more or reduce your enthusiasm? What do you think about it in general?
- Marc: I think there are a bunch of different things to look at there. First one is that we always have to understand that negativity can have purpose. It can help us understand different viewpoints, it can help us understand where to focus and what are the things that we can actually improve so it’s great those who appreciate us and it’s very important to us that people like yourself who believe at what we’re doing and they understand it and they get it! But we can often make a lot of improvements from the negative aspects.There were some comments that were genuinely useful! We took them into count, in our releasing and in our design and we’re able to bring software updates very quickly that will hopefully address a lot of those things.We did release the product on time and we understand that essentially every time you make something brand new from the start, you have to get it to the market and then the market will tell you what the next steps are. So we were able to respond to a lot of these things and the next software update is basically right now and we understand that while we go forward, we have things to do!But if all we were doing was producing a phone that would work exactly like a phone that you already have then where is the innovation? Where’s the discovery? Where’s the reward for the user and learning something and doing something more powerful than what they had before?
We do understand that there’s a learning curve! There’s a learning curve to a bicycle too but you see bicycles all over the world!
And once you learn to ride a bicycle, you can go faster! It’s the same thing with our phone! There are things that you need to learn but once you lean them all, you’ll get the pay-off.
For this, what we’ve actually started doing is that we are doing a little bit of simplifications to help the new user adopt the device and understand the way that things work and I think that there is a lot of opportunities for us to give little clues about how to use the device and also maybe make it a little bit more straight forward to get it using and then add some of the more complicated things that actually give you more power as the user a little further down the line once you actually started using the phone while understanding the basics.
JollaUsers: That’s actually true! I can’t use any other phone properly because I’ll just start swiping!!
– The beginning of Jolla journey… How did it go? We all know a lot of difficulties were involved obviously. But my question relates to expectations. Were you expecting something like this? A phone with these capabilities and all the cool stuff featured/will be featured in it?
- Marc: I think from an overall product stand point, that we exceeded our initial expectations! It was a very long and difficult, but very rewarding and joyful two years! We spent a great deal of effort in the beginning to get ourselves established so that we could start to make partnerships, we were able to continually deliver, even if it was just demo quality things that we could go and show partners “this is our capabilities, this is where we’re going”.The last year was very focused on getting the single product out and it’s been pretty well publicized that we had to start over in the spring and I think for what we were able to achieve is amazing!People are saying that is it the right hardware, is it the right features and things like this, but we’re actually similar to one of the flagships from one of the formerly largest mobile phone manufacturers in terms of spec! [You know who he’s talking about 😉 ] And a lot of the phones you have today don’t even utilize all of the hardware that is there and we’re really are able to utilize what is there and what is most important now is what we do next and the most important thing is that we keep delivering to those who have believed in us so far and we keep providing more opportunities for others to join us!
JollaUsers: I see a lot of potential in Sailfish OS and I’m already amazed by its amazing design and capabilities. What would be the best description for Sailfish OS from Marc Dillon, one of the key persons in making the actual OS? Tell us something magical, hypnotize us!
- Marc: Well, it’s difficult to say about something that’s brand new but the thing that I have got the most joy from it as a user having my whole digital life in front of me and interacting with my whole digital life very easily from the home screen so I can see all of the things at the same time, they are all living and dynamic, and that’s the unique experience! To be able to see everything that’s important for me at just a glance of the phone and being able to interact with them very easily.There’s an example that I could say at the moment which is: When the home screen is open and we have all of those things there and I’m able to peek from one application to see that application in full screen plus all of the other apps in the background at the same time. It really helps me to be able to multitask because I think I’m back and forth between seeing what I have open in the browser and maybe I’m typing something through a text message or being able to see that “ok I have a missed call, I’m going to get back at it later in the day but at the moment I’m not ready for it at the moment because I have meetings” and it’s always sitting there in the home screen and it’s ready for me! So being able to see the whole digital life at once is the most important thing and being able to so quickly and easily, switch context without losing anything.
Here is a hands on about the same example Marc just talked about:
JollaUsers: Your ex! Nokia I mean! She got married to Microsoft as you’re aware! How did that affect Jolla or will affect Jolla in a better way of saying? Will Jolla be the ultimate Finnish mobile manufacturer if it already isn’t?
- Marc: Keeping in mind that Nokia has changed many times over the years and it has evolved many times as a company, I think that there’s a lot of opportunity now that Nokia is seeing in the parts that remains like the technologies offered in the mapping solution and the network side, I see that Nokia is going to come back with something new and something innovative. Change is very important, it’s a great thing that produces innovation and actually I see good things coming from Nokia in the future, and part of the stuff is now going to be with Microsoft and they have their own way of doing things with their own products and we’ll see what the future holds with them. The market will tell us more about it later!
JollaUsers: Have you ever had any other OS or any other manufacturer in mind to compete with? Or you just came there to be literally unlike others, have your own way and conquer the mafia world of mobile giants in an “unlike” way? Because you came to make the change happen.
- Marc: Producing the best product that we possibly can with our talent and our vision and our attitude and the way of working has always been the most important thing. I always go back to my known slogan which says “Ford and Toyota are cars, so we don’t need more car brands in the market” and now it’s like that! There’s really only two choices. Consumers need more choice, need more opportunity and so many people have different viewpoints and there’s so much diversity in the world thus there’s a great deal of diversity in Jolla and I think it’s really important to be able to provide new ways of doing things for people and then they’re going to understand that it’s not just these two choices anymore and there are other choices out there.The other players that could be considered as smaller players in the market and the industry at the moment whom are trying to get a piece and trying to compete with the big ones, I think that we are all together and united in this fact knowing that people do need choice and they need something that’s new in the market.It’s a shame that it’s been so difficult for so many of the smaller players to get established and I think we’re at a tipping point now where all of these new things are coming and people are starting to understand that there ARE choices and they’re starting to look at those very seriously.
JollaUsers: Would we expect see low-end Sailfish smartphones anytime soon? Not from Jolla though, but from other vendors that might support Jolla.
- Marc: Let’s see. We are talking to partners all of the time and now that we have proven our capabilities, those discussions has changed accordingly, so we do understand that this group of men and women were able to create this world class platform and now it is available for low, mid-tier and high-end products.I’m as excited as you are to see what happens next!! But there’s nothing announced at the moment.
JollaUsers: There are more questions but I guess we should wait and see your great performance once again in MWC. By the way are you taking those girls with you again? 😀
- Marc: I… I don’t know! 😀
JollaUsers: Anyway best of luck at the congress! Hope to see great stuff coming from Jolla, good new features and “some hardware” 😉 Thanks a million for the time you made for our humble blog, and hope to see you again very soon!
- Marc: My pleasure! Take care!
At the end we took a photo together on Skype with Marc’s new and Unlike hairstyle:
Feel free to give any feedback and let us know what do you expect from this year’s MWC?
Hope you enjoyed reading this interview!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out our great community-made ambiance package on our Dropbox shared folder if you own/willing to own a Jolla phone: >> Click <<
You can also submit your own ambiences to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image credits goes to Marc Dillon and Jaakko Roppola