Ubuntu Smartphone Confirmed for 2014


Canonical has confirmed a currently unnamed manufacturer will release an Ubuntu smartphone in 2014. It follows failed attempts to Canonical to produce the device itself.

Canonical, which develops Ubuntu and operates commercially by charging for support and related services, first showed off the “Ubuntu Touch” system for smartphones at the start of this year.

At that time, the company explained that the selling point for consumers would be a combination of a “beautiful” interface and the possibility of having smartphones that could work as desktop computers through a screen, mouse and keyboard dock. It also said the system would appeal to developers who could make Linux-based apps and easily scale them for smartphones, tablets and computers.

The company had intended to produce its own high-end handset known as the Ubuntu Edge and attracted $12.8 million dollars of pledged donations on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. However, as it had said $32 million was the minimum needed to develop and manufacture the phone, it received none of the cash and abandoned the project.

Now Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth says a deal’s been made for one manufacturer to produce and ship an Ubuntu phone next year. He also said talks with other manufacturers had reached “the board level on four household brands.” And he said many major network carriers had backed the idea of Ubuntu Touch. That could be vital for attracting buyers through the carrier subsidy model.

Speaking to CNET, Shuttleworth said one tactic for promoting the system will be to integrate apps from major online companies that often get shut out or downplayed on Android phones because they are rivals to Google.

It’s been a good week for Ubuntu in the press, with Barack Obama mentioning the term during his eulogy to Nelson Mandela. Obama was referring to a South African concept/philosophy, which roughly translates to “human kindness”; the term was the inspiration for the name of the computer system.