The most difficult problem to deal with when launching a new mobile platform nowadays is the initial lack of apps. It is a chicken and egg sort of issue where tier one developers -- the ones who are behind the most popular offerings -- refuse to develop software for the new platform unless there is a large-enough userbase and users refuse to buy devices sporting the new platform unless it offers them access to the most popular apps. To put that into perspective, it's similar to the problem BlackBerry is facing now with BB10 OS (no major developers, no major apps, no user growth).
Jolla, with its Sailfish OS-based smartphone, is a newcomer on the smartphone market. And, it too faces the same problem as every other platform developer that ventures into new territory -- the big app titles are nowhere to be seen. But, instead of following the same troubled path as Microsoft which tries to lure developers into releasing Windows Phone 8 apps, Jolla says it has a different way, a better way. The Finnish company announced that Sailfish OS is now compatible with Android apps.
"Users enjoying the unique gesture-based and modern Sailfish OS user experience will be able to take full advantage of the Android application ecosystem available through various app stores globally", says Jolla. "Jolla will cooperate with leading global app stores to ensure users can seamlessly download Android apps just as they would do on any Android device".
And, to give us an idea as to which apps early adopters can expect, Jolla CEO Tomi Pienimäki says: "For example, highly popular apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Spotify run directly on Sailfish OS. Also Chinese WeChat – already with over 400 million users – runs on Sailfish OS". That's undoubtedly good news for those who like the concept behind Sailfish OS but not the initial lack of apps.
As you might imagine, Sailfish OS will not have access to the Play app store unless it receives Google's stamp of approval (a highly unlikely move). That means early adopters will have to rely on (and will be limited by) other app stores, or perhaps sideload downloaded software if supported.
According to Jolla, the Android compatibility with Sailfish OS has been achieved, at both hardware and software levels, by making its operating system work on similar hardware as the one used by green droid devices today.