Ubuntu smartphones will go on sale in October, but in which territories and made by who?
Early last month, Canonical announced its foray into the smartphone market with the Ubuntu for phones. Offering an alternative to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Symbian if you swing that way, Canonical’s mobile Linux OS could be a refreshing new take on mobile operating systems, but when will that refreshing take hit the market?
We’ve known that an image for the Ubuntu Phone OS code will be released towards the end of this month for the Galaxy Nexus, but the release of an official piece of hardware was always in question. Now, a Wall Street Journal article states that Canonical will be shipping Ubuntu smartphone hardware sometime in October of this year, a timeframe given by Canonical founder and former CEO Mark Shuttleworth at a presentation given in New York this week. Shuttleworth also stated that the hardware will be available in two “large geographic markets” during that October timeframe, but didn’t clarify which ones.
Now, if Canonical can confidently state a specific month in which the Ubuntu Phone hardware will ship, then you may think that it already has at least one hardware partner that can, you know, manufacture the hardware that will be shipped. In a market that is flooded with different smartphone hardware and mobile operating systems, it would seem a little strange for major manufacturers to create specialized hardware for Linux (of all things), as that doesn’t even happen very much in the PC world.
However, if you take a look at the smartphone hardware market, you’ll find that it’s enormous — inundated with prominent manufacturers that seem to release new hardware before we can even remember what a previous iteration was called. For instance, according to one list, HTC alone has manufactured 159 phone models since 2002, with a very large chunk of them released after 2007. Surely, a prolific manufacturer like that — who even manufactured two Brew MP phones — wouldn’t have too much of a problem throwing a bone at Linux. We can rule out Nokia (considering its close relationship with Microsoft), as well as Apple.
As for another hurdle, Canonical must partner with carriers as well. Shuttleworth stated that Ubuntu Phone OS has drawn interest from several of them, but did not mention which ones, or even what the level of interest is. We’re going to keep our excitement in check with regards to that statement, simply because “interest” doesn’t have to mean anything more than someone raising an eyebrow.
Interestingly, when Canonical first announced the Ubuntu Phone OS, it said that it was targeting a 2014 release, but now — according to that WSJ article — the release has been pushed up to October 2013. This could just be an attempt to generate hype, or signal that Canonical has actually found partners to make the hardware a reality.
Whatever the case may be for the beginning of Canonical’s journey into the smartphone market, we can’t wait to see how it goes. If you’ve been taken with the Ubuntu Phone’s Welcome Screen like the rest of us, and you also happen to have an Android device, you can grab a live wallpaper of that Welcome Screen over here. Hopefully that will keep you busy until Canonical releases the Nexus image.
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