Winter 2022 was characterized by the arrival of AI to the general public, or rather AI-based help tools from platforms such as openAI and google Bard.
Other more specific tools have arrived such as for example Midjourney.
But in the meantime what happened in the alternative mobile OS scenario?
As we well know, Sailfish OS is a mature project, probably the oldest alternative (non-Android-based) mobile OS currently alive.
However, it was several bulletins from months/years ago that I reported between the lines a certain immobility of Sailfish OS, at least compared to other more recent projects.
In fact, the updates have taken place in the last year, but since SF OS 4.0 there have been no visible changes by the user (UI design), or graphic restyling changes or new Jolla apps. Also, this is a “skip-year”, the one in which the new model of Xperia 10, (actually the Xperia 10-mk4) is skipped, and there is no new phone supported.
All these things together had an effect at some point during 2023, and the demand for Xperia phones suddenly dropped… There could be other causes, but in the meantime Volla’s growth has been noted.
The Volla project has been active since at least the beginning of 2020, and during 2021 J-D had started collaborating with Hallo Welt as a reseller.
For several months Volla products represented a symbolic or very marginal share, but from the beginning of 2023 it’s as if something had suddenly changed, with several requests for VP 22 and VP X23 (pre-order).
Volla OS is the project of a smaller working group, and as a branding it pursues the ideal of freedom and privacy, and a strong simplification of the Android UI: the Volla Launcher is a minimalistic red dot from which a handful of options can be chosen.
It is not clear what made the situation change in 2023, but it’s as if European users at a certain point understood the importance of focusing only on the development of Volla smartphones and Volla OS, and trusted the new project by the German startup Hallo Welt.
The rest of the year will tell us if the trend will consolidate, or change, but the upcoming launch of the rugged Volla X23 already marks a possible direction.
I must start by saying that there was a trial throughout 2022 to introduce a line of Pixel phones with Graphene OS in the J-D store choices, an attempt that did not worked.
It’s as if Google Pixel phones are not liked by European users, and therefore also the secure Graphene OS ROM does not find a market.
Graphene OS on the other hand seems to have “all the cards on the table” to be the best alternative ROM – a very fluid UI, reliability with strong security tools, the ability to install apk apps from various stores, and great cameras (!) – but it doesn’t catch on.
Background note aside, based on the J-D analytics, the recent news of the step back by Micay as lead developer of Graphene OS should be noted:
I've stepped down as lead developer of GrapheneOS and will be replaced as a GrapheneOS Foundation director. I'll be ending my use of public social media. I'm unable to handle the escalating level of harassment including recent swatting attacks. There will be a smooth migration.
— Daniel Micay (@DanielMicay) May 26, 2023
As many remember there were problems years ago which led to the split between Graphene OS and Copperhead OS (it’s history now), and some years ago there was also some drama with Techlore simps and another security oriented android ROM.
So there was too much negativity in the world around Graphene OS… The coming months will clarify whether the restructuring of the roles and the Graphene OS Foundation will improve the situation and by how much.
The mystery of the failure of Pixel phones in Europe remains, and this could be linked to the original sin of being… the children of Google itself!
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