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The state of paid Sailfish apps, and app Ecosystem.

asked 2017-10-31 01:12:42 +0300

Desmo gravatar image

updated 2017-11-03 02:28:37 +0300

XFish gravatar image

[update: title to make more objective] While I'm glad that Jolla and SF exist and that they've released the OS to their small community of beta testers (us) it doesn't address the glaring empty hole that is the SF ecosystem.

First I want to say a huge thank you to all the devs who have released apps and to OpenRepos. Without OpenRepos we would be stuck with the pitiful offering that is the Jolla Store.

For 4 years SF users have been asking for paid apps and Jolla's reluctance to even address the topic since their last response 2 years ago speaks volumes. Somewhere along the line Jolla's business plan of what they wanted to do changed and that change doesn't involve us. Actions speak louder than always has and always will. It seems that these days Jolla is only interested in licensing Sailfish to BRICS nations and those on the BRICS periphery while leading the charge in creating a vibrant ecosystem has been tossed out the window. They won't say it flat out as they would lose a large chunk of their free beta

There's no excuse that after 4 yrs the store is what it is. I was an N9 user and the N9 had a nice collection of good, AAA apps and even some games from Gameloft. Private devs released excellent, high quality apps since they could monetize their work and many of us N9 users gladly paid for these apps.

When the N9 died many devs gravitated to BB10. When BB pulled the plug on OS10 a couple of years back many of those same devs waited for some news from Jolla. Nothing ever came and to this day it's still not addressed. I can only imagine how many good devs through in the towel and now develop only for Android and IOS. I reached out to a few and while they were frustrated at the time, now they just don't care anymore...not only have they lost interest in developing for SF, they're not SF users anymore either. That is a big loss to us, regardless of how anyone wants to twist it.

Since it's obvious that we are on our own the question is how do we get the ball rolling?

Today I reached out to the Opera Store and asked them about hosting apps and paid apps on their store. I'll see what they say. In addition, I would like feedback from anyone who is interested in getting a store going where we can host paid apps for our devs who want to monetize their work. Has anyone done this in the past? What are the costs involved? I've been doing research for the past week but would like input from knowledgeable SF users.

We're on our own here guys and gals. If we don't do something, Jolla and no one else will. I know that we can come up with something as this community is fantastic already. Just going through OpenRepos shows you what a dedicated group we are/have in coming with solutions for all kinds of problems.

Thanks for taking the time to read...


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Perhaps Openrepos could be the launch pad for paid apps?

Edz ( 2017-10-31 01:47:18 +0300 )edit

@Desmo can you tell me an example of a good paid app that you miss on sailfish?

i personally dont want paid apps because they encourage closed source. i dont want that. but mostly the big apps that are missing for most people are free anyway: skype, facebook, whatsapp, instagram, snapchat...

the issue is that sailfish is just too small... and that wont change for a while.

and 100 flashlight apps for 1€ wont change that either.

whats really missing is an easy option to donate money imo.

misc11 ( 2017-10-31 05:40:27 +0300 )edit

To pay to stuff-around when your idle go Android or IOS, they're both great for this purpose.

For better practical usage, the only way for Sailfish is to offer great value out of the box: you'd buy a Sailfish device and get what you need to adequately communicate, record and navigate. 3rd party development would cover special-case needs, also the terminal + the usual command-line programs would let people roll-their own solutions to specific problems.

Even with payment there's little incentive to develop & maintain a quality program for a tiny number of subscribers. A flood of crappy minimal-effort programs (web portals) on the reops will be a more likely outcome (as happened with BB10). On top of this, monetization forces a reduction of security measures a user can be permitted to take as it may be in violation of agreements with 3rd party developers (which may not be made otherwise).

cpb ( 2017-10-31 05:43:54 +0300 )edit

From a user's perspective I would change the title to the pitiful state "appshops" I can see why it is popular as it offers advantages to all parties being either phone maker, developer, user. But that does not mean it is a good concept. We can't expect payment options in the appstore to be key to generate quality or less clutter. Let's take a look on an iPhone 6s, an "ecosystem of which I genuinely know little to nothing". First the page opens with suggestions that make the experience as painful as watching commercial TV. Searching for "xmpp secure" results in about 6 "free apps" and 1 paid. -No indication of user appreciation or quality, just a random list, it appears. The paid one is very expensive at 55 Euro's. Clicking on it: not enough reviews to make a summary of reviews but you can find a link to a web site there: And yes a web site seems to be needed for further convincing that the 55 Euro's are buying you not just a bag of air because the iOS appstore fails to convey that message. So I conclude I can as well go "1999" and websearch first in the hope that some users outside the appstore "ecosystem" have reviewed or compared exactly what I am looking for. Duckduck go "xmpp secure for iOS", and I find "chatsecure" presented by And yes this is also in the iOS appstore list, again without reviews. So it must mean something? How is it possible that communication oriented apps have no reviews in the mighty app store of the first smartphone brand? Sad state of Android, iOS, Jolla appstore indeed. A mess is a mess be it 2K or 500K rubbish programs that somehow hope to benefit from this easy transport that allows them to jump into the face of the unsuspecting (paying) customer. Developers may benefit from it but imo should in parallel use a professional webpage such as for example
Good software deserves this.

The biggest disadvantages of the Jolla shop I came across on the iPhone appstore:

vandersmash ( 2017-10-31 07:55:00 +0300 )edit

The biggest disadvantages are shared by Jolla shop iPhone appstore: -way too much junk -failure to autodetect wither local bus service or singer is of any interest for me 10000 km away -lack of sensible honnest and in dept reviews up front

vandersmash ( 2017-10-31 08:02:45 +0300 )edit

16 Answers

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answered 2018-04-17 14:36:56 +0300

Bringing this topic back on top with a new answer. :) As you probably already heard, my company WerkWolf launched a payment framework together with Piepmatz 1.0 last weekend, detailed information on It features Wagnis (see discussion on and works with OpenRepos and the Jolla Store.

Coming back to @Desmo's original comment "We're on our own here guys and gals. If we don't do something, Jolla and no one else will.": Now we have something which could be extended to a decentralized service offering to all developers for SFOS. :) Therefore, some questions go now to the Community and especially to developers:

  1. What do you think about the solution?
  2. Is there any dev with a concrete interest in using such an infrastructure as well?

Thanks in advance for any comments, ideas etc. and best regards, Sebastian

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As already mentioned on Twitter: I appreciate your approach. It utilizes the well established distribution channels and only requires to buy a license from an external shop. Ideally you would integrate this purchase process into the app. However for me switching over to that website wasn't an issue for me. I hope this will get adopted by other developers and accepted bu the users

jollajo ( 2018-04-18 00:33:46 +0300 )edit

I must say I haven't tested it since I am somewhat away from twitter. However, I would like to congratulate you for developing this platform! Its great that you keep twitter client open source and can plugin such module to push users to pay for your work. Good luck!

rinigus ( 2018-04-18 17:29:39 +0300 )edit

I'm not a heavy user of twitter, either but paid for Piepmatz anyway because I want to encourage this new method of appreciating a developer's work.

Timm ( 2018-04-19 15:04:05 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-12-01 10:20:06 +0300

Spark gravatar image

The latest blog entry probably reveals Jolla's solution to paid apps: Blockchain payment via their new "sister company" zipper.

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Yes, that's what they also hinted at during the last Community Meeting... I coudn't be less impressed.

ossi1967 ( 2017-12-01 11:09:04 +0300 )edit

For which reason?

Spark ( 2017-12-01 11:53:37 +0300 )edit

ahh, yes, another user here on TJC linked to a video, presented by Marc Dillon for Zipper - "Sell your soul (data) for a couple of euros/dollars/pounds" - I guess some will fall for it. I also need to look into it, but my first impressions are the same as ossi1967's response.

Edz ( 2017-12-01 12:04:50 +0300 )edit

@Spark: Isn't it obvious? The Sailfish ecosystem in itself is tiny. The success of a payment system will depend on the number of users willing to use it, trusting it. Would they implement what's standard everywhere (like credit cards, PayPal, operator billing,...), they'd reach 99.9% of the Sailfish user base. Implementing something else that's totally new, that nobody knows how to handle, that (as far as I get it) willl only be integrated on Sony hardware and not on older devices (Jolla 1, Aqua Fish, tablet,...) as the only option will cover a small amount of the Sailfish user base. Developers will most probably not be too happy.

ossi1967 ( 2017-12-01 12:21:27 +0300 )edit

The way I see it trends always start very small. As a company of Jolla's size (and market share) your only option to succeed on the longer term is to be the first on such a trend and then grow rapidly if you set on the right horse (with the significant risk of failure if you set on the wrong horse). For established standards the market is already settled by Android/iOS/Banks/Credit Cards. To me it looks like a flight forward (in German "Flucht nach vorn").

And as a side effect the Jolla store can use Zipper for payments (not saying that this is the main aim of Zipper).

Spark ( 2017-12-01 13:11:54 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-13 18:47:05 +0300

misc11 gravatar image

how about an integration of liberapay - non-profit european patreon like service directed to artists and FLOSS coders? this would allow a more stable income for coders opposed to classic donations.

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The figures quoted on that page are miserable, or perhaps I misunderstand what is occurring there.


Liberapay was launched 2 years ago and has 2595 users.

€26,388.99 is escrowed within Liberapay.

The last payday was 5 days ago and transferred €783.94 between 585 users.
465 participants gave money.
179 received money.
59 did both.

On average, people who donate give €0.90 each to 2 other users.

€783.94 divided by 585 users = €1.34 each.

Edz ( 2017-11-13 19:08:15 +0300 )edit

well, ijust heard about it as some german (tech) podacsters were talking about it and joined. i guess at least in german this can gain some traction. after all.. just an idea :)

misc11 ( 2017-11-13 19:10:37 +0300 )edit

Sure @misc11 - I wasn't criticising you or your findings, far from it; I'm just gobsmacked at the figures they give.

Edz ( 2017-11-13 19:12:56 +0300 )edit

@Edz sure! its just this service is young and kind of unknown in the shadow of patreon. but i think if there was an app and integration in the store, the numbers would sure go up.

i would hope, this isnt just jumping on sth existing - its making sth happen - for all FLOSS devs - not just jolla, so spread the word ;)

misc11 ( 2017-11-13 19:17:27 +0300 )edit

@misc11 - based on casual reading of the site, this actually could fit SFOS quite well.

@Edz - I presume that there has been lack of bigger projects using it. Not sure we can bump the user count that much, but maybe money flow could increase?

rinigus ( 2017-11-13 20:38:47 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-11 17:18:19 +0300

jsommer gravatar image

I'm afraid, that the money is not in mobile software, but in the hardware or services. You can sell devices with a preinstalled software like Apple or a service like LinkedIn. The apps of LinkedIn are free, but they make the money with a rather high prices subscription.

Anyway, for some applications like media editing or office applications have some chance to be sold. However I would recommend to offer an application for free and to make monay with in app purchases. Customers could try our an app or get a first impression at least to be motivated to activate more features.

I would appreciate an open source library for in app purchases, which could easily be included in Silica apps. I would appreciate a way to post this demand in a community to raise money for theses kind of demands. There should be somethink liek an inverse Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Entrepreneurs, companies or self-empleyed developers chould place a project to raise money in a bidding process. The cost for development would be shared and open source could become a business model for developers.

We would have two winners, the developers and the entrepreneurs, who could speed up development of commercial software and services.

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answered 2017-11-02 22:38:52 +0300

Desmo gravatar image

Since we're having a decent disucssion with the pros and cons I would like to know...

How many here who are advocating for open source which is free (as in beer) and only a donation based model for those apps, what apps have you written and currently support?

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I advocate open source not free-as-beer but free-as-open.

I have not written any "applications" if you define something with a GUI as I am a systems programmer. GUI-kinda things are not that interesting to me. My projects include things like cron, filesystem modules and encryption utilities. (and I did write one "application" kind of thingy once for N9, a multiboot manager called ubiboot)

I use just a couple of applications on SFOS, those are all open source and I have paid for those in donations, except for cases where the developer refused to accept my donation.

I also have done self-made modifications/enhancements to some of those applications, which is also only possible because they are open source. And yes, those are all available in my github.

juiceme ( 2017-11-03 09:54:02 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-02 18:56:26 +0300

ABeam gravatar image

As a software developer skilled in the C++/C# world and professionally engaged in the area of industrial automation, I am reading all comments/answers with high interest. Next to spending free time with my family, I was not able/willing so far to go beyond the installation of the development environment and some first proof-of-concepts. For me it is clear that getting any money for my development would not be worth the effort (income tax, agreeing with my company about this new side-job, etc.).

Some ideas coming to my mind how to make the development side more attractive:

  • In order to make me invest my precious time I must be able to have a steep learning curve with quick successes. (Already addressed as topic documentation and APIs)
  • My contribution must be valued, which would be the case when it is helpful to others.
  • It must be clear that I work for the greater good, for a reasonable purpose.

Is there a most-wanted list of all the app requests from How can collaboration be supported for those devs not able to invest hundreds of hours? Are best-practises properly documented and accessible in an easy and prominent way? What is the entry point for new developers?

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I consider the issue with payed apps similarly to you (tax / too busy real job / ...) and was mainly a user of open-source software. When I decided to move to SFOS, it became rather quickly clear that unless you do anything yourself, not much will change. And starting to write open source software was a way to pay back the use of the software by others. Now, closer to the questions:

  • Learning: For me, the hardest part was learning QML. If you have worked with it, you are in the clear. Otherwise, just invest time into learning QML syntax (its really weird to declare variable id within structure) and QML interaction with C++.

  • Value: it will be valued if the product is good :). In general, community is small and users tend to know who developed what, I guess.

  • Greater good/most wanted: The following worked for me: Find what's missing for YOU in SFOS application landscape. Find the app that's closest to what you want and contact the developer(s) and suggest your help. If there is no such app, maybe there is something similar in Linux and its possible to bring it over to SFOS by splitting backend and frontend.

  • Best practices: depends on the project. Larger projects (if you port something and adjust for SFOS) have good review system, some have guidelines. Many original apps in SFOS are single-programmer job and then it would depend on that developer. For Mer backend - there is a separate issue tracker, but I don't know about entry points.

rinigus ( 2017-11-03 22:04:29 +0300 )edit

@rinigus: Thanks for your elaborated input! I will see what kind of empty space I can find for my efforts.

ABeam ( 2017-11-13 23:42:31 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-02 17:31:47 +0300

XFish gravatar image

updated 2017-11-03 02:36:49 +0300

@Desmo Flattr actually already exists, including paypal and other vehicles used by the community of devs in openrepos, i dont see whats wrong with using Flattr i have contributed about $75 to devs over the years, not much but i am also not shy to donate.
What i do agree with is payment/donations should be as easy and convenient as possible, maybe Jolla can leverage their Jolla store and software store to start hosting apps, i do however caution that creating paid versus non-paid apps results usually in ADs versus Non-AD apps, which Jolla and most users probably despise as an ecosystem.
It should therefore be Flattr/Paypal/Credit Card, easy to Donate options, maybe a $1 flat fee, for all apps?
Jolla execution would be critical, it would be donation but opt out based, so before you can download the app, it would ask you to donate, If you say NO, it might charge a flat rate, are you ok with that, if not, the app may contain ads, so to OPT outs, which would get more people to pay up.

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Agree 100%! It should be one tap / donation.

tmy ( 2017-11-02 17:51:45 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-02 15:24:57 +0300

yurumi gravatar image

updated 2017-11-02 17:11:05 +0300

I fully agree with @Desmo and @Ygriega. Until now I've developed two apps (Sailabag and Schwarzenmaker) with the following stats:

  • Sailabag: 452 Downloads (305 Active), 51 Likes, 18 Reviews, no code contributions
  • Schwarzenmaker: 832 Downloads (457 Active), 75 Likes, 15 Reviews, no code contributions
  • Total Flattr revenue: €23.56 (over the last 2.5 years)

My motivation for creating (and releasing) these apps was (descending importance):

  1. I wanted to use them myself.
  2. Learn how to develop an app, i.e. code improvements / pull requests by others.
  3. Feedback, discussions and feature proposals.

As you can see, earning money was no goal. Although some people gave feedback and flattred (thanks alot for this!), all in all I feel like 2. and 3. are not satisfactory leaving only 1. as a motivator. Right now I have two apps which are 80% finished so I can use them for myself. I don't feel like finishing the last 20% as it is very much work. Speaking for myself, paid app support would definitely motivate me to release the apps – if someone is willing to buy your app it's like an implicit feedback.

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@yurumi thanks for the feedback. Without you devs still coding for us it would be a desert.

Are you going to stay with SF or will you be moving on in the future?

Desmo ( 2017-11-02 19:19:48 +0300 )edit

I'm going to stay with SF as it is inspiring and leaves much space for creativity (i.e. shortcomings you have to cope with as SF user ;-). Besides I really like Qt/QML I don't feel the urge to develop something for android leave alone iOS. Still it is frustrating how Jolla is ignoring the paid app topic...

yurumi ( 2017-11-02 23:09:44 +0300 )edit

@yurumi good to hear...another soldier still in the ranks :)

Desmo ( 2017-11-03 12:39:15 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-02 14:12:51 +0300

jollajo gravatar image

As a user I'd support to have an app store to pay for applications, that would encourage developers to dedicate their time to SailfishOS.

Until such an app store is available, wouldn't it be possible to fund new features through some kind of crowdfunding? Let's assume the app developer has a public list of bugs and features to be implemented. Add an estimation for the effort and a way for the user community to 'invest' on each issue.

As soon as there's enough money for an open issue the developer can commit him-/herself to that issue.

This would still comply with free and open source software and the developer get's some incentive to spend time on uses that are not on their personal priority list.

I'd assume that most crowd funding platforms would support that approach.

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I agree. The Sailfish OS community is quite much like any other Linux distro community, and I guess many of us prefer FOSS when possible. Going to myself I only buy proprietary software if there is no other option, but on the other hand I gladly donate to FOSS projects, especially if it's easy. Having a store that makes it easy to contribute via for example Bountysource would be perfect!

luen ( 2017-11-02 23:30:15 +0300 )edit

answered 2017-11-02 11:01:02 +0300

OlivierJolla gravatar image

I really don't see the point of paid apps on the Store: as a long-time linux user, I never paid anything to install a package from the repositories of my desktop distribution, and most things are great quality software, covering all my needs.

The only notable exception are games, I happily pay for games in DRM-free provider (such GOG or Humble), and even (slightly less happily) for DRM-ized games on Steam. Having say that, I must say that I regularly pay for apps for my Sailfish devices using the Humblebundle store which provides DRM-free Android games.

My experience with the Play Store is very little: I never used a real Android device, and on my new Xperia, I have only two apps coming from it (other android apps coming from f-droid or from humblebundle). My observations on the content of this paid-enabled store are the following: - most of apps seems to be free but actually are adware or pay-to-win (for games), or both - most of apps are intern quality (kind of "this is my first app, i gonna be rich" syndrom) - most of apps embed privacy invasive proprietary libraries (even for simple things) - most of apps are clone of each other (either free or paid) - everything paid app is tied to your Google account, so DRM-ized

It is just my humble opinion on my own experience, but I would be happy to stay far far away from this ecosystem. And if you really want to sell your app, just sell it on your website (a simple announcement here would be enough to inform the community).

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If you don't see the point, please think a bit about the people who actually write the software which you are installing on your Linux machine. Do you think all of them just write this great quality software in their spare time? Well, some of them do, but especially several critical components (Kernel, Desktop Environments etc.) are maintained by people who are paid by companies to do that full time. These companies are usually no charities and also need money to sustain their business - even Canonical shall be profitable in the long run. This money usually comes from other businesses - as they need a reliable infrastructure and support for their business or because they do advertising and want to know who you are.

Also think a bit further: Why did Jolla change priorities from consumer to governments/large businesses? Because they can't sustain a business from consumers! Many consumers don't see the large and complex effort to implement this software and take it for granted that some nerdy guys spend their whole time on providing nice updates to your favorite applications or simply don't care if their applications spy on them.

So, SFOS Community, you can't have everything: No spy/adware, no paid apps and a plethora of nice, high quality applications for your consumer needs. In its most basic sense, a "Community" was never meant to be "consumption-only" - it has always been a balance of giving and receiving. As mentioned above, if the Community is not willing to pay for good work, that's OK, but then, please don't expect that people develop things for you...

Ygriega ( 2017-11-02 12:30:30 +0300 )edit

It is exactly why I don't see the point of a paid market: quality software can be either made by large companies supporting free software or by motivated people (for any reason, most popular not being money). As such, I am not convinced that a paid market would be a way to have quality software for sailfish. And when I look at the state of other markets I am even less convinced.

I am grateful to people providing free software for sailfish (even if I have very few needs in terms of so-called "applications"). But support for paid apps is not likely to provide more developpers (at least, good developpers) for Sailfish, at the cost of DRM (probably) and of a giant mess of useless paying apps (certainly). (Obviously, the word "giant" need to be relativised to the size of the sailfish community.)

OlivierJolla ( 2017-11-02 12:45:46 +0300 )edit

Well, taking a look at the Apple ecosystem, I would really say that small/medium size companies or freelancers have a solid chance of monetizing good quality software. On Android things look slightly different, I agree - there people want to be spied on - except the few people who use it without Google Services.

So, let's see if there is a (small) market for paid apps on SFOS or not. I'll most certainly try it out (if nothing serious happens...). But just to repeat, for me as developer the decision is clear: If there is not even a small market by mid 2018, I'll jump ship and don't publish apps anymore.

Ygriega ( 2017-11-02 13:17:30 +0300 )edit

@Ygriega, I fully concur with all the points in your first post.

However the size of the SFOS userbase is so small it does not and will not ever support monetization by paid applications.

juiceme ( 2017-11-02 16:47:19 +0300 )edit

@juiceme Never say never... ;) At least we should give it a try. Of course, it won't pay off for the complete effort if you consider all the working hours, but to a certain extent it could be possible. If not, well, that's also a result as I said...

Ygriega ( 2017-11-02 17:03:06 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2017-10-31 01:12:42 +0300

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Last updated: Apr 17 '18