Canonical Expects No Major Ubuntu Mobile Smartphones Before 2015

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ubuntu handsets from major manufacturers not expected this year, says Canonical community manager

Canonical has admitted is unlikely that a major manufacturer will launch an Ubuntu Mobile smartphone before 2015 and reiterated it has no plans to produce the Ubuntu Edge after it failed to meet its crowdfunding target.

Responding to questions in a Reddit Ask Me session, Canonical Community Manager Jono Bacon said that it is likely that the first Ubuntu Mobile devices would come from a manufacturer in a smaller region with lower costs and associated risks.

He added that Canonical would be better off in assisting its hardware partners in creating a wide range of Ubuntu Mobile devices rather than devote resources to one specific device, but said the failed Ubuntu Edge campaign succeeded in raising awareness about the project.

Ubuntu Mobile plans

Ubuntu Mobile dual boot“We don’t have any plans to put the Ubuntu Edge into production. I am supportive of this: I think it would tie Canonical up in knots delivering a very specific device rather than focusing our efforts on making Ubuntu work well for other OEMs who can ship it,” he said. “The Ubuntu Edge was really helpful though. It directly triggered a set of discussions from various OEMs and Carriers who were blown away by the support in the community and press for the device.”

The Ubuntu Edge was intended to be a flagship device for the platform that would showcase its features, but despite raising £8,228,625 and becoming the world’s biggest ever fixed crowdfunding campaign, it missed its ambitious £20.8 million target.

Canonical has repeatedly stated that the Ubuntu Edge will not be produced and Bacon spoke of the firm’s short and long term goals for the mobile operating system.

“I think the ideal customer today is someone who wants a dependable device but does not require a large catalogue of specific apps (as we don’t have many of them yet),” he explained. “Longer-term we would love to see the major OEM/Carriers shipping Ubuntu handsets. This is a long road though with many components, and I would be surprised if we see anything like this before 2015.

Competing platforms

“In the shorter-term there are smaller OEMs who serve a smaller region who see great opportunity in Ubuntu, and their costs and risk are smaller for them to trial a device. This is where we will likely see the first handsets shipping. My hope is that when one of these smaller OEMs ships an Ubuntu handset that it sells well and it sends a strong message to other OEMs too.”

The company is also targeting Smart TVs, but Firefox OS, one of three other open source mobile operating systems hoping to make an impact on the smartphone industry, has beaten it to that market. Bacon said Canonical still had plans for televisions, but right now its focus is on the smartphone and tablet market, as well as the continued development of Ubuntu desktop.

A version of Ubuntu Mobile is currently available for enthusiasts, with a dual boot feature that allows the operating system to run alongside Android on the same device, released for developers just before Christmas.

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