The Ubuntu phone is coming in 2014 but does it stand a chance in tomorrow’s mobile market?

Alex Masters

ubuntu for phones 300x225 The Ubuntu phone is coming in 2014 but does it stand a chance in tomorrows mobile market?If all goes well, the first Ubuntu powered smartphone will be available to buy in 12 months. This doesn’t sound like a long time but in the fast-paced world of mobile computing, one year might as well be a decade.

Assuming there are no complications along the way, which would be a miracle in itself based on the complexities of building mobile software platforms from the ground up, the next versions of iOS and Android will have come and gone, Blackberry 10 will have finally arrived, and Microsoft will be close to releasing its next iteration of Windows Phone software. If the rumours are true, we may even see an Amazon smartphone by the end of 2013 too. That’s is one crowded market.

Even if Canonical (Ubuntu’s parent company) manages to meet their ambitious deadline, it’s hard to imagine how they will be able to keep up with competition from the industry’s biggest players, Apple and Google, in a bid to stay relevant. But you have to hand it to Canonical, they have guts diving head first into this aggressive market, even veterans of the mobile industry are struggling to stay afloat.

Research in Motion, the company behind Blackberry have years of experience in mobile software design and yet they have suffered several delays in bringing their upcoming BB10 operating system to market. With each delay RIM have lost even more marketshare and their competitors have continued to raise the bar along the way.

Once BB10 does arrive however, RIM will still have a market of existing Blackberry customers at their disposal which they can more effectively market their latest hardware towards. Ubuntu on the other hand will not be so fortunate.

Anyway, enough doom and gloom. I am hoping Ubuntu can succeed where others, such as webOS and Meego have failed. Despite the seemingly vertical uphill struggle Ubuntu faces over the next 12 months I am still optimistic. I think the Ubuntu phone OS contains some very innovative and inspiring design ideas. Canonical are taking advantage of Google’s open source Android software, which gives them a solid foundation to build upon, and they have an army of incredibly skilled developers from their desktop OS team at their disposal.

The initial operating system design and features, as seen in the promotional video below, look very promising and offer some fresh ideas for ways to interact with our always-connected mobile devices. I especially like the way Ubuntu aims to make web-based apps integrate seamlessly into the OS at a system level, just like a native application would. This is an extremely interesting idea.

I also think the industry needs as many competitors as possible to contribute ideas, features and variety to the mobile landscape, forcing the pace of innovation to increase. Face it, do you really think a grid of icons is the pinnacle of mobile interface design?

Canonical are also releasing Ubuntu for Android, as demoed at at Mobile World Congress last year, making it possible to plug supported Android phones into desktop monitors, enabling you to use the full Ubuntu desktop OS through your phone. At of writing, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first and only device capable of supporting Ubuntu for Android.

This is all possible because Android and Ubuntu share the same Linux kernel and will no doubt provide Ubuntu with huge amounts of feedback to help them further develop their own mobile OS.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the mobile Ubuntu OS develops over the coming months, it’s just a shame we have to wait so long to experience it.

What do you think of the proposed Ubuntu smartphone OS? Can Ubuntu really get a mobile OS and accompanying hardware to market to compete with the biggest names in the technology?

Let us know in the comments below.

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  • shaneo1

    It’s Ubuntu font actually. Recheck.

  • Gary Jones

    Plenty of time for developers to make custom themes/icons etc., unless you happen to like Unity?

  • Rowas

    I’ve grown up a windows user and recently migrated to OSX.
    Ive grown to love and respect all three OS flavors, but Linux has always had a special place in my heart, so Im really excited to hear they are making a mobile OS and they will definitely succeed as people will recognize the true potential of a mobile phone/computer hybrid.

    The one and only thing I desire out of this is for the desktop interface to be changeable. Much love to the folks at Canonical, but I just can’t stand the interface. I want to love Ubuntu so badly, but Ive always been upset with how it handles its design.

  • David Knapman

    Windows 8, one user interface for all devices (works on some, not on others). Ubuntu, one OS with similar user interfaces tailored to each devices needs. I know Windows phone is different to Windows 8, but the UI is similar enough

  • Fool_Brittania

    Before condsming let’s see what it can do.

  • $27735102

    On my planet Ubuntu counts as a sans serif font, by virtue of its lack of er…serifs.

    Technerds with Asperger’s who go out of their way to prove that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: Double-check.

  • wisdom_agbottah

    i think Ubuntu has a chance with the mobile phone market cause after a long while since we were all used to windows and there came the mac OS and the whole world accepted and welcomed the new OS.half of the world use mac now so i look forward to the Ubuntu OS phones since the Linux OS itself is very reliable and secure just like the mac should watch out and there was no android with the Linux.

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