Monday 1 February 2016

Jolla Tablets in China

Jolla tried to deliver more tablets, now sold by others on Taobao  

After Jolla's financial situation was partially resolved in December 2015 they did their best to deliver more slates to the Jolla Tablet campaign participants on Indiegogo. Jolla got 540 more, missed 400 slates already sold to others, and had to promise almost 10 000 backers a refund in two portions. Juhani Lassila from Jolla was very transparent on the China situation when I asked about it.

Jolla Tablets in China - details on the Indigogo campaign

Worth a read? Please share:

UPDATE, February 6, 2016

My friend Tyler in China shared an awesome follow up post, I might even call it "Jolla Tablets in China part 2". This post has highly unofficial status, which is also clearly stated there, but it's a great insight on the availability and current status. Using the Sailfish OS flashing tool linked there is purely on your own responsibility, security is round zero (unknown) on that, but the post itself is definitely worth a visit for it's informative value.

Part of the tablets sold via Taobao are Aigo x86 Tablets in Jolla Tablet covers - having different operating system and hardware, and not a safe buy. I've edited a couple of pics for a comparable view, and you can see a huge difference already in the motherboards:
Aigo X86 motherboard, HERO8 M Ver2.0.
See e.g. less components around the charging chip
Jolla Tablet motherboard JOLLA Ver4.0,
not all parts and covers yet removed

Original post, February 1st, 2016:

Indiegogo campaign launched for Jolla Tablet back in November 2014 was a great success. Jolla received 2.5 M$ from backers and was about to deliver 10 000 slates added with couple of thousand more for later pre-order customers. But things don't always go as planned.

Aigo X86, "little sister" of Jolla Tablet
China was originally also part of this campaign, but due to licensing reasons Jolla needed to drop China from the list. There were not many backers there, and they were offered a refund on spring 2015. Jolla's "little sister" Aigo X86, another quite similar Android tablet sold in China since February was not related to this, according to Juhani Lassila, Head of Communications at Jolla

The similarity comes from factory design - smaller manufacturers save in expenses by selecting their design from an assortment offered by the factory. Jolla picked their hardware, colors, and of course added their unique software to differentiate for Finnish design.

Aigo X86 has some different hardware,
e.g. the USB port and battery capacity
During 2015 the campaign suffered from several delays both due to issues in the Chinese hardware parts and changes of factories in China. Schedules were tuned several times, resulting as tougher campaign to Jolla than expected.

In October 2015 Jolla finally delivered the first 121 tablets, a small batch for testing their delivery infrastructure. About 70 of already invited contributors were still left on hold, some already having paid the tax too.
"These will be shipped as soon as possible," promises Lassila.
In November Jolla run into serious financial difficulties as its financial round got delayed, finally forced to temporary lay off a big part of their employees and filing for debt restructuring in The Court. The campaign was totally frozen.

Jolla Tablets on Taobao
Financial situation got better in December when a reliefe on debts was granted by The Court, and Jolla closed their delayed financial round C. Not perfect, but good enough to keep up with the software development and call part of the crew back on board. Meanwhile In China, there was a 2nd batch waiting - a load of tablets already produced but left unpaid.
"The manufacturer has placed these already produced tablets, a rather small batch, under forward sales due to delayed payments - since that, we do not have any official status with them," Lassila clears out.
Now that the financial situation allowed, Jolla could buy back 540 devices from the manufacturer. The factory had already started forwarding these tablets to other retailers.
"They are precisely from this batch. Some of the devices had already been sold forward, and for this we have not been able to do anything anymore. Unfortunately we can't get the rest back. We asked for a repurchase of these devices from the manufacturer, but this was no longer possible because the equipment had already been sold," Lassila tells us.
Jolla Tablet on Taobao
The Saifish OS community soon found out that Jolla Tablets are sold elsewhere with both Sailfish OS and Android operating systems installed. Retailers are selling both models for example via Taobao. According to Lassila, Jolla have no facts about this but they will examine it further:
"These devices are initially ordered by Jolla, but there are no guarantees if the devices are now similar or not," stresses Lassila.
Jolla worked to get these back, but Lassila tells that Jolla has no agreements directly with the retailers. This also means that these tablets do not have official support. Even access to Jolla Store and system updates is unsure:
"This depends a lot on what changes have been made to these tablets. They are not ours, so we can not comment any further. Officially these devices do not support Jolla Store or updates, as they are not sold through official channels," says Lassila.
For a small foreign company playing in the huge markets of China the situation is difficult. Meanwhile, Jolla hopes that their customers would use only official partners.

Jolla Tablet awarded on MWC15, Review Jolla
On the future of the Indiegogo campaign, a total of 661 first contributors can expect to receive a Jolla Tablet (121 delivered, 74 invited, 466 new invites). For all the rest Jolla has promised a refund in two parts (note: FAQ updated), half issued starting on February 2016, another half latest on January 2017 with a reservation that Jolla's financial situation allows that.

On the future of markets in China, Lassila had not much to share right now. China is still a part of Jolla's BRICS strategy, on which Lassila shares that things are currently going well in India, and he's also happy about the strong political interest towards Sailfish OS elsewhere.

More on the BRICS strategy

Share and Shout! Your friends might read it.

By: Review Sailfish OS, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Sources: email interview with Juhani Lassila (Jolla)
Published: 2016-02-01 15:52 UTC
Updated: 2016-02-06 21:30 UTC


  1. Thanks. This, and Official Jolla Blog ( NEW sections) help to clarify why Indiegogo backers can't get a tablet although they paid for it, but Chinese consumers can buy one at Taobao. Still, a few things seem unanswered:
    1) Jolla could buy Taobao tablets - there are just 6 sellers to date - and put Sailfish OS in them, and ship them to the backers - this would cost ~750k$ (approx. 5000 tablets * average price of 150$) + shipping. Why is this so hard?
    2) Some Taobao sellers state that you can get SFOS installed for ~300 yuan extra fee. Will Jolla actually install SFOS on these devices if/when a Chinese seller pays them a few dollars, when the company won't see the trouble of delivering backers their devices?
    3) isn't it cheaper to buy the tablets back than to refund 2.25M$ to the backers?

    1. Thanks for some good questions, I'll reply with what I know, hoping others to join as well. On some older posts also Jolla officials have visited here for replies, but that was a time before they launched their own blog :)

      1. Jolla's financial situation is still tight, making this possibly an impossible act for now. Jolla however investigates the current retailer situation
      2. In my understanding, Sailfish OS is already installed on part of these tablets, and Jolla is definitely not installing their sw afterwards for any unofficial retailers
      3. Adding all the secondary costs (support, warranty, handling, new round of hw/sw security checks), probably it would not be a cheaper option, but this is arguable.

      As a personal opinion, and if not sold out widely, it would be great to see some retailers offering them back to the factory/Jolla at some point (and hopefully in a moment when Jolla happens to have financial opportunity to take that offer).

    2. I think Jolla could buy these tablets and it would be a little cheaper than refund. However, they do not know if some changes have been made to these tablets, as Lassila told. In addition, can you trust these sellers? Buying them would simply be too big of a risk, and they cannot gamble their money at the moment.

    3. Purchasing tablets back from Taobao sellers would rise a lot of questions. How would they ensure that the product itself would met the quality criteria. While the Jolla could set quality standards to the manufacturer they could not with the Taobao sellers. Let's imagine some backers would get tablets with opened packaging, missing peripherials, etc. So I think it is not a simple matter of buying them and resending to the backers.

    4. I have seen one report of someone buying a tablet from Tabao with SailfishOS installed (for an extra $32). It came with version 1.0.8, but updated without problems. None of this answers questions about the legality of course.

      Original report (in French):

      Reported by Jordi on TMO:

    5. Now the really interesting question is: how many tablets were factuallymanufactured? No bullshit but pure number...

      Not to mention, how clear sign it is that somebody produced "fake" tablets mimic real Jolla ones. Somebody sees real demand here and expecting customers paying those tablets...

      If it seems to be profitable business for someone why isn't it so for Jolla itself?

    6. Ordered by Jolla, in my understanding about 1000 (unconfirmed) of which 121 shipped, 540 in Jolla's possession, the rest few hundred sold to others.

      Additionally there could be any amount of tablets, even thousands, with Jolla HW or Aigo HW or a mixture of those, and both with AOSP, AOSP+Fakefish or the real Sailfish.

      I guess even Jolla doesn't know any numbers on these, as handshakes are made between the Chinese factory and unknown 3rd parties. The factory might have produced anything with any components they had left. Producing stuff without need to worry about warranties or services is probably quite profitable indeed.

  2. Juha, in our understanding there should be less than 400 tablets sold by our ODM to those guys that are selling them e.g. on Taobao. But that is of course what has been told to us, and we can't know what has happened between our ODM and some 3rd parties ..

    In worst case some of those tablets are not really Jolla tablets, but leftovers of Aigo tablets or even something else. And as we have explained, Aigo tablet is quite different beast, most likely Sailfish OS would NOT even boot on that device.

  3. good to hear, that lfe is going on.
    Do you know if it's 32GB and 64GB tablets beeing shipped, or just 64GB? (I have a very low backer number, but just went for 32GB)

    1. If I were at Jolla deciding who will receive a tablet, I'd deliver whatever models are available in the order of contribution time, additionally refunding those who get 32GB model but have bought the 64GB perk, and just leaving happy those who get 64GB even that they only paid for 32GB perk (if they run out of 32GB models).

      I'm also guessing Jolla will schedule the most of the shippings to the time of MWC16 for some nice publicity after the **storm during past months. I'd expect also refunds to be issued around that same time.

      And Harri, thanks for joining the conversation! Risky beasts indeed, at least all units after those few hundred. No way to be sure what one would get, so might be better to wait for bulk offers. Maybe those few hundred eventually find their way back home, and get checked and forwarded to few more backers. Would be unlike!

  4. Any external hints on the device it self or the packaging how to tell if the Taobao-bought device is rip off or not before booting up and seeing if I can install the Jolla Store or not? Coloring, markings, texts, details?

    1. For the hardware: USB port shape; FDD match with the public database; exact weight; Jolla logo on portrait; unopened package

      For the software: Someone experienced should compare it with a genuine tablet to be absolutely sure. Anything could be changed/added, so there's a risk included.

    2. Thank you for this information, I have some more questions: Is there any closeup pictures of the different USB ports to compare it to and I'm not familiar with therm "FDD" and google didn't help, can someone open it little bit for me? Exact weight is 900g? I found it from thread on TJC.

    3. - Sry for typy, I ment FCC. Check here.
      - Pic on usb here.
      - Weight (official) is 384g, but I've measured only 360g... Not sure if my scale was all right or not, but not too fat anyway :) Maybe not that important, if FCC matches. Cheers!