Ubuntu smartphones coming to two regions in October

Canonical says its Ubuntu smartphone will be available before the end of the year, but is remaining coy on where the handsets will be launched first.

Ubuntu-based smartphones will be available in October, according Ubuntu creator and founder of Canonical Mark Shuttleworth.

The Linux OS, announced last month and described as an enterprise operating system , will be available to developers on a Samsung Nexus phone in late February, Shuttleworth told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Besides the dates, Shuttleworth didn't give away much more about the OS than Canonical revealed in January ; however, the October timeframe is earlier than the 2014 timeframe originally scheduled.

Shuttleworth also said it would be available in "two large geographic markets". He declined to say which ones, conceding only that North America was a "key market".

Canonical has touted the Ubuntu smartphone's ability to boot the full desktop Ubuntu when docked to a screen. The UI also relies on gestures built around all four corners of the screen.

A feature that may appeal to the corporate market is its thin desktop-like feature, which allows Windows applications to be served to the smartphone.

While the device will clearly launch in the shadow of Android and iOS, it joins a host of new smartphone challengers vying for attention from carriers said to be keen on breaking their dependence on the two dominant platforms. Nokia chief Stephen Elop has made similar claims of the need for a third major OS in the form of Windows Phone.

Besides the two former smartphone leaders Nokia and BlackBerry, a host of would-be challengers with Linux roots are emerging, including Tizen, which has found support in Samsung Jolla Mobile's Sailfish OS , which is eyeing a future in China; and Firefox OS .

Like Tizen and Jolla, Canonical is also pushing the idea of a converged OS that spans phone, PC and TVs.

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