Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth says developers and Android enthusiasts are likely to be tempted by converged computing – not iPhone users
Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth is confident that Ubuntu Mobile can tempt users away from Android, but admits that iPhone users are unlikely to be attracted by the first smartphones running the open source Linux-based operating system.
Speaking at CeBIT 2014 in Hannover, Shuttleworth outlined his vision of converged computing that will see the same PC-like experience delivered across a multitude of form factors, powered by a single device or “brain”.
He said five years ago the concept of personal computing was limited to the PC, but today it was an “aura” around a person, comprising PCs, smartphones and tablets, soon to be extended by Smart TVs and the emerging field of wearables.
Ubuntu Mobile is being pitched as a platform for all devices and Shuttleworth suggests that tablets and smartphones could eventually be reduced to a screen and a battery, removing the need to pay multiple times for the same experience but in a different form factor.
“We see all of that as being aspects of a single idea,” he said. “It’s unnecessary for you to keep all your devices in sync with each other.”
Canonical is confident that its vision of converged computing will attract developers to the platform as they will be able to create applications for multiple devices at once.
“There’s no point doing something that’s already done,” he said, adding that Ubuntu Mobile will also target consumers who want an easy to use phone with all the most popular applications. “We will deliver a phone that’s much easier to use than Android for that audience. Android has really served its purpose but perhaps it’s time for something new.”
iPhone not the target
However Shuttleworth is less convinced that iPhone users will be willing to make the transition to Ubuntu.
“An iPhone user is not our target audience, because there’s a degree of emotional attachment to the Apple ecosystem. We don’t see the same emotional connection to other platforms. We want to create something people do have a connection with.”
He doesn’t think Google and Apple are quaking in their boots just yet, but is sure that the two firms are taking note of what Canonical is doing and even suggested that Google might sense an opportunity, given that Ubuntu Mobile is an open platform that could be used to promote the search giant’s services.
“If you look at the heart of Google’s business model, I don’t think they depend on Android,” he explained.
However Android has the support of most of the world’s major smartphone manufacturers, while Canonical has attracted just two lesser-known companies as its first partners – ‘bq’ of Spain and Meizu of China.
Shuttleworth reiterated that these two were selected because of their track record of breaking into established markets: “I think that’s a great start for us.”
Of course, Canonical could have made its own device had its Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign been successful. However Shuttleworth says the project demonstrated what users wanted from an Ubuntu smartphone: “It failed spectacularly but also succeeded spectacularly.”
Ubuntu is just one of four mobile operating systems hoping to establish themselves as a genuine alternative, with Firefox OS, Sailfish OS and Tizen all hoping to make an impact in 2014.
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