Thursday, 3 March 2016

[follow up] Promise on Sailfish OS in Salocon Valley

...with questionable information in the Finnish press. Updated on April 19, 2016

Earlier, we shared a warning to our readers to keep some distance with any possible upcoming financing campaigns for a promised new Sailfish OS Turing Phone to be manufactured in Salo, Finland (image). The local newspapers are positive on TRI's future plans, but some of the national ones have found reasons for skeptic posts too.


[follow up] Promise on Sailfish OS in Salocon Valley - News from Finland


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This is a followup post for "Promise on Sailfish OS Turing Phone by TRI" (Turing Robotic Industries). The original post was published on February 26th and updated on April 7th, 2016. Our followup collects related news published in Finland via the following sources:
  • YLE (the main national news channel in Finland)
  • Digitoday (subpage of Taloussanomat, a business news provider)
  • Salon Seudun Sanomat (local newspaper in Salo, Finland)
  • Turun Sanomat (one of the oldest newspapers in Finland)
  • Uusi Suomi (one of the oldest newspapers in Finland)

YLE.fi

April 19, 2016 YLE published news sharing that according to TRI, the production has started. Few picks translated from Finnish:
  • The first phones manufactured with crowdfunded money are delivered to subscribers during April
  • Deliveries to subscribers will continue throughout May
  • Turing's phones have Sailfish operating system by Finnish company Jolla
EDITORIAL: In my knowledge, this is the 3rd production stage this company and its predecessor (QSAlpha) has informed about, previous one being quite similar on August 2015 (Turing Phone) and the one before that about stopping production in 2014 (Quasar Alpha IV). Click the image to enlarge.

April 11, 2016 YLE published an analysis on Turing Robotic Industries plans by Mikael Rautanen, business analyst at Inderes, Finland. Picks:
  • This project will require financing of tens of millions to succeed
  • Highly competitive mobile phone markets are extremely difficult to enter for a small company like TRI
  • Rautanen emphasized that a new product should differentiate radically, and he doesn't yet see or understand what innovative technology or new user experience this product might have
  • Additional to financing, Rautanen brings up the importance of operator deals in the distribution, their quality playing more important role over their amounts
  • He mentions Sailfish OS as an additional difficulty factor: "Not only that a new product needs to succeed, but a completely new operating system as well", he says
  • On  the estimation of 60000 phones manufactured on 2016, he sees the amount as credible, yet adding that even being able to deliver those to the distributors, the demand within the end customers "remains to be seen".
  • Rautanen has also thought about the credibility of the company. According to him, due to the short history, fails in the background and changes of course, TRI is yet a shady player, but hopefully their plans will unfold.
  • The article ends up asking  if Steve Chao could be seen as the next Steve Jobs. Rautanen on this:
"Young Steve Jobs wouldn't produce mobile phones to the already competitive markets, but something totally different."

April 11, 2016 YLE journalist Antti Parviala had a video interview with Steve Chao, CEO at Turing Robotic Industries. Few picks:

  • TRI has hired 14 employees, and Managing Director will be hired on May 1st
  • TRI is currently putting up the production lines in Salo, Finland. Chao is happy about the help TRI has received via Smartsalo (Finland) and Microsoft for the facilities.
  • Chao estimates that TRI will produce 60-70 thousand 1st generation Turing Phones during this year and will introduce a 2nd generation device for Thanksgiving or Christmas time this year. They will also announce other technology in the upcoming months.
  • Chao mentions financing as Plan A, at the same time sharing that the company currently has capital to survive for the next 18 months and to produce 30 000 phones. He's interested both on institutional and private financing in Finland especially for research and innovation, sharing that the discussions have started. He's looking forward to hire engineers and security specialists in Finland.
  • Surprisingly, Chao changes the main selling points of Turing Phone: It's not sold mainly as a cipherphone for security, as Chao finds this should be a common feature in all products in these days, but instead as something with different user experience and innovation. He sees TRI's customer base to have especially small business owners and artists who want to differentiate
  • Chao mentions that they already have a distributor in China, and interested parties in India, Middle East and even in Europe. Once entering China, there's possibility to get financing also to the working capital. TRI is aiming for 1% global market share in 18 months time
  • The interviewer focused on financing plans and on interest in the markets. According to Chao, external finance is not crucial for the company but it would be nice. Chao adds that they had 12000 reservations on August 2015 and the company currently has less than 2000 pre-orders. The shipping will start on May, mentioned as a final schedule.
  • The interviewer asks about the earlier project Quasar, ond Chao admits it caused some bad reputation but adds that startups make mistakes and he's not worried about that
  • The interviewer asks about risks related to using Sailfish OS by Jolla, a rather new operating system, on a Turing Phone which is also new. Chao explains that even the Turing Phone is running on Snapdragon 801, rather old processor, he has never had a quicker user experience that what his prototype running on Sailfish OS has. He did not reveal the OS functionality to the cameras, but flashed the lock screen showing Sailfish OS.

February 26, 2016 YLE corrected the amount of employees to about 300, sharing also the following quoting Steve Chao, the CEO of TRI:

"Recruiting the employees has already started, tells Mr. Chao. For example an operative leader has already been hired to the company" 
"I can't reveal the name yet, but a former Nokia employee is in question," Chao tells. (translated from Finnish, source)

February 25, 2016 YLE shared bold news about Turing Robotic Industries (TRI) hiring almost 3000 employees to a factory located in Salo, Finland, an earlier production site of Nokia (and later Microsoft) phones.
Editorial: However, the new TRI "office" still has its address only in a lawyer office in Helsinki and the company has not been registered to the employer register in Finland by today. This makes the above a bit questionable.


Digitoday.fi

April 7, 2016, this Finnish site shared 3 articles related to Turing Phone. First, this video interview with Mr. Steve "SYL" Chao, CEO at Turing Robotic industries:

video

The article additionally updates the expected prize of Turing Phone from $600 to above $1000, depending on the amount of memory and the selected covers.

On Digitoday's other article also dated to April 7, they update TRI's expected amount of employees to "much lower than the earlier estimates" of 270 (and even earlier 3000). Mr. Chao shares that less than 20 employees are already hired, and more will be hired depending on the orders of the upcoming phone. According to this article TRI is currently negotiating with retailers in China, India, Middle East and Europe.

On a 3rd article, Digitoday had an interview with Antti Rantakokko, The Mayor of Salo, Finland. He wasn't disappointed on the new estimations on the amount of employees. He said it's "now on more realistic base", and he's happy that the upcoming production attracts other new businesses into the area of Salo. On financing, Mr. Rantakokko shared that the discussions have recently started. According to him, due to closed mobile phone manufacturing in Salo [ed.note: earlier Nokia and Microsoft production site] new companies have an access to "normal business financing" and to globalization funding via European Union.

Editorial: In some earlier news elsewhere, Mr. Chao told that TRI already has a deal with China Mobile on distribution. On the prize, seems a bit high for a product with 2014 main chip (Snapdragon 801), and those covers are a question mark after a trademark carrying the name was abandoned. While listening the video interview above, reading the news on the amount of employees and reading the update by SSS below, it seems that Turing Phone has pretty ambitious plans pushing out phones from the factory in just six weeks after leasing the facility -with less than 20 employees. Or what do you think?


Steve Chao, CEO at Turing Robotic Industries.
Photo by Mikko Kiviluoto, Salon Seudun Sanomat
SSS.fi

On April 5, 2016 a local paper Salon Seudun Sanomat (SSS) quoted Mr. Steve Chao, CEO at Turing Robotic Industries, who shared the following claims (freely translated from Finnish):
  • TRI now owns the earlier production lines of Nokia located in the factory at Nakola, Salo, Finland
  • TRI has leased the production site from Microsoft starting on April 1st, 2016. They have an option for buying it later, but according to Mr. Chao it's good for a new company to start as a tenant. Mr. Chao visited his upcoming production facilities on April 5th. 
  • Production is due to launch during May 2016. Currently the site is on preparation. Right now, fibers for an updated IT infrastructure are being set up.
  • According to Mr. Chao, licensing of Sailfish OS 2.0 is in place and Turing Phone will run on Sailfish OS with TRI's own user interface. On Facebook, TRI added later that the OS will fully support Android Market apps.
  • Chao tips that smartphones are not TRI's final or their only goal, but one must start from something


On March 2, 2016 SSS had an interview with CEO Steve Chao via a phone call to Peking, sharing more:
"Turing Robotic Industries Oy will recruit in public in May, tells Steve Chao, CEO of the company"
"According to Chao, the company hires employees already before May without a public recruiting process. He tells he received a lot of applications when TRI entering in Salo was shared in the news." (translated from Finnish, source)



TS.fi

Meanwhile on the other national news, Turun Sanomat, one of the oldest papers in Finland shared a more skeptical news analysis. Unfortunately the article is paid content so I can't quote more from there, but already in the summary:
"Turing is, in the light of past actions, a full question mark."
UUSISUOMI.fi

Uusi Suomi, one of the older news giants here as well shared the connection to QSAlpha which was also mentioned in our earlier post. In general, comments by Finnish readers in the most of the shared news has been wishful but skeptic.

More

Following up also the trademark issue mentioned in our earlier post, the application was abandoned while TRI didn't clarify the commercial use of liquidmorphium as requested by the Patent and Trademark Office in US in the given time of six months.

In the meanwhile, Jolla has kept full radio silence in their official channels - a wise decision, if you ask me. Juhani Lassila, Head of Communication at Jolla shared to us on February 15, 2016 that an agreement for licensing Sailfish OS to TRI is ready, but it was still missing signatures and the acceptance of the board. Mr. Chao visited Salo, Finland in the beginning of April 2016 and according to him the licencing of Sailfish OS is now in place.


Editorial, wrapping up all these news:

TRI possibly hiring employees in Salo is big news to the city even if the amount of them would be smaller, as the unemployment rate in the city is currently pretty high after Microsoft left the building.

For me it's quite understandable that the local papers are eagerly sharing such news a positive way, but the news shared via the main national news channel YLE [having a governmental leader board] were bit more surprising to me. Smells a bit fishy, especially as none of their journalists have so far checked the company history, like what was done in those two other national papers.

I remain skeptic on seeing any phones manufactured yet in April, as promised by TRI, and even yet in May 15th as later postponed.

I advice our readers to read any Finnish news on the topic with some grain and salt, as some of them seems to be overly positive on the possible upcoming phone manufacturing in the big, empty factory Salo. Finland. Still, let's give this a chance. Maybe something will be manufactured in the "Salocon Valley" one day.


This post was a follow up to
"Promise on Sailfish OS on Turing Phone by TRI" (updated on April 7, 2016)



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By: Review Sailfish OS
Cover Photo: Earlier Microsoft production site in Salo, Finland. Own work by Motopark, CC-BY-SA 4.0
Video: Perttu Pitkänen / Taloussanomat Oy to digitoday.fi, CC-BY-ND-SC-1.0 (Finnish)
Sources: Linked directly in the post and email exchange with Jolla
Published: 2016-03-03 14:21 UTC
Updated: 2016-04-19 15:49 UTC (yle.fi)

3 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, something smells fishy... Is there a scam going on? Few picks from comments by TRI on their Facebook page:

    March 25th, 2016:
    "Please note that TRI is not involved in any crowd funding project whatsoever!"
    "TRI acquired QSAlpha including their customers and have promised a $1,250 Turing Phone to every QSAlpha supporter. "
    "The Turing Phone will begin shipping in April"

    March 26th, 2016:
    "The information you want is coming in April. The phone you want is coming in May."

    March 29th, 2016:
    "We have our reasons for doing things the way we do. Please understand and appreciate this fact. You'll get your soon enough."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this great collection of recent news. Exactly was I was looking for.

    ReplyDelete