For many years there have been 3 players in the smartphone and tablet space: Android, iOS and Windows. But before this Big 3 there was another: BlackBerry, Palm and Windows. Technically none of those operating systems exist anymore, with BlackBerry producing Android phones now, Palm being used on televisions and Windows Phone completely reconsidering the way Windows works on a phone. But how did that happen?
Apple was either inspired by or frightened of a relatively unknown platform being developed by a company co-founded by a Danger co-founder, who was responsible for the Sidekick. The company wanted to change the way mobile phones worked, and boy did they. That company was called Android, Inc., and the platform they were developing would go on to force everyone in the industry to adapt or escape. It even inspired Apple into the mobile space, creating a race for dominance in this newly expanding market.
These companies have not lived in a vacuum, though. Nokia had Symbian, Palm launched webOS, BlackBerry launched their QNX-powered BlackBerry 10. Today, all of those platforms that were created as a response are gone, with BB10 being the last to go only recently. From their ashes rose a slue of operating systems that were inspired by, but not forced by, Android and iOS. Unfortunately, these companies have had issues gaining any marketshare, not because the platforms are inherently bad, but because consumers aren't compelled to jump onboard.
One of those platforms is Sailfish, produced by Jolla. In its time "on market," the platform has only been installed on a single device, which has never really sold. Because of this, the company has laid off most of their staff, essentially mothballing the product indefinitely. While this is not good for the company, it does highlight the ups and downs of secondary mobile platforms.
It is unlikely that, in the near term, a platform from outside of the Big 3 will catch on in the mainstream. Sailfish, Firefox OS, Tizen, etc., don't have the clout or marketing to be able to attract the things that are required to succeed. On the other hand, their ideas do help push the Big 3 into action. For example, if it hadn't been for the relatedly unknown Android, Microsoft might never have created the UI basics of the Zune and Zune HD, which ultimately lead to the Windows 10 platform which is predicted to be the largest installation-base of any Windows version in history.