Jolla’s Sailfish OS gains Android compatibility, making it an easier sell for manufacturers

Finland’s Jolla has made its Sailfish OS hardware- and app-compatible with Android(s goog), a move it says will help manufacturers pick up the new mobile operating system with minimal hassle. The company already has Android apps such as Instagram(s fb), WhatsApp and Spotify running on Sailfish OS, it said.

Sailfish OS is derived from MeeGo, Nokia(s nok) and Intel(s intc)’s once-promising Linux-based platform, which got canned when Nokia adopted Windows Phone(s msft). Android app compatibility, always in the cards,  is something that could attract consumers, but Jolla is pitching hardware compatibility as a boon to manufacturers, too. After all, they’re all already making Android phones, so being able to reuse the same hardware designs would be a plus.

As recently-installed Jolla CEO Tomi Pienimäki said in a statement on Monday:

“We believe Sailfish with Android compatibility is a highly relevant mobile operating system option for major mobile companies in Europe and in Asia. We are already in discussions with several major Asian vendors regarding this opportunity.”

Pienimäki also noted that the Android version of WeChat is running happily on Sailfish OS. This will be handy – WeChat is China’s leading chat app, and Jolla is trying to push hard into China with its D.Phone distribution deal (covering its own Sailfish OS-equipped Jolla smartphone).

Will Jolla succeed in finding other manufacturers to run with Sailfish OS? It’s not out of the question. In China, for instance, third-party Android app stores are the norm, as Google Play doesn’t carry paid apps in that country. Sailfish OS can’t use the Play Store, but if it can work with those third-party app stores, then that’s a good start – indeed, Monday’s statement says the company will “co-operate with leading global app stores to ensure users can seamlessly download Android apps just as they would do on any Android device.”

The statement also referred to the recently-announced Microsoft takeover of Nokia’s handset division (bear in mind that Jolla is largely staffed by Nokia refugees). Noting a “very dynamic” last few weeks, and following Jolla’s recent wrapping-up of its first production batch, Pienimäki said “Finnish customers who want to express their passion for the Finnish mobile industry” would get first crack at pre-orders for the second batch later this week.