Note: this is a guest post written by Nancy Perkins
One of the most favored Linux-flavored operating systems for desktop and notebook computers, Ubuntu, is coming to smartphones, as confirmed by the open-source OS’ commercial sponsor, Canonical. The popular free platform first demoed January 2 came as a follow-up to an experimental version presented last December which can be installed on Nexus 7.
Furthermore, it will be featured at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show 2013) in Las Vegas, which will run from January 8th to the 11th. The tailor-made handset version of Ubuntu is expected to be a hit among hobbyists and open-source software enthusiasts all over the world.
Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth says the move will round out his vision of delivering a single operating system to phones, desktop interfaces, and even to supercomputers. The startup has also expressed interest in offering handset manufacturers and mobile operators a “single enterprise superphone” through Ubuntu for mobile to give users a complete and consistent experience of the lauded OS.
Asked on what would make an Ubuntu smartphone more interesting than any regular Android phone, Shuttleworth implied that the Ubuntu phone would deliver a crisper and cleaner experience for users. Furthermore, he cited that they will be developing a high-end device that will get the “full desktop” treatment from Ubuntu, something that has never been done in smartphones. He said the smartphone version would not be limited to mobile use alone, because when docked with a screen, users can run the full Ubuntu desktop from the phone itself (acting similar to how a Live CD functions).
As per Canonical CEO Jane Silber,
We expect Ubuntu to be popular in the enterprise market, enabling customers to provision a single secure device for all PC, thin client and phone functions. Ubuntu is already the most widely used Linux enterprise desktop, with customers in a wide range of sectors focused on security, cost and manageability. We also see an opportunity in basic smartphones that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email, where Ubuntu outperforms thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation.
It is expected that with this version of Ubuntu installed on smartphones, consumers who normally use their mobiles for calls and messages only would eventually embrace other widely used functions on their phones such as web, email, or even use their handsets as their business phone. Although partner mobile carriers’ details haven’t been announced yet, they are to benefit from this advancement greatly since data use will be increased phenomenally when such a trend is in place. Canonical forecasts that the Ubuntu-powered smartphones will hit the shelves in early 2014.
Canonical currently serves the community-driven Ubuntu OS to leading manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Asus, and Lenovo as a pre-installed component to majority of their global shipments. As per recent estimates, almost 10% of new desktops and laptops to be shipped in 2014 will sport this free and open-source OS. Meanwhile, the new announcement is pegged to shake things up a little since will surely bring more enthusiasm and attention to the mobile computing arena (much more so with Samsung unveiling its plans to come up with its own operating system for smartphones) to give key players Google and Apple a run for their money.
Truly, Ubuntu has come a long way in giving those in the computing realm an option that, although tiny, has become a force majeure not just for hobbyists but also for regular consumers worldwide. With the announcement of its foray to the mobile frontier, hopes are set high for a Ubuntu-powered smartphone, which only seems valid given today’s growing need for mobile convergence.