Canonical announces first Ubuntu smartphone manufacturers

Canonical announces first Ubuntu smartphone manufacturers

Summary: The first native Ubuntu smartphones are expected to be in customers' hands in 2014.

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The wait is almost over. On February 19, Canonical announced that it had signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers Spain's bq and China's Meizu to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers around the world.

Ubuntu smarphone
The first native Ubuntu smartphones will be shipping this year.

In a teleconference, Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu and Canonical's founder, said that development programs have already begun with the partners to provide smartphones with a superior user experience on mid- to high-end hardware for consumers around the world. These devices will be available to buy online through bq, Meizu, and Ubuntu.com.

Ubuntu Touch: The next hot smartphone operating system Gallery

Meizu is a successful high-end smartphone manufacturers with 600 retail stores and a global presence in China, Hong Kong, Israel, Russia and Ukraine. In January, the company announced its strategy to expand into other international markets as well as to ship phones in America later in 2014 and Ubuntu will be a key part of this expansion.

Bq is a European manufacturer of multimedia devices. In 2013, the company shipped almost 1.5 million devices and, in less than a year, has become the Spain's second biggest seller of unlocked smartphones. Bq will bring Ubuntu onto its latest hardware specifications. If that's correct, the first bq Ubuntu smartphone will use a 1.5 GHz Quad Core Cortex A7 as its processor. “Ubuntu’s ongoing success with PCs, as well as the huge support it has gained for its mobile proposition, provides the best opportunity to bring an alternative platform to market on our hardware,” said bq CEO Alberto Mendez in a statement.

Shuttleworth did not give any hardware details about these devices. He did say, however, that Canonical is working with these partners to ship the first Ubuntu devices on the latest hardware in 2014. Ubuntu has also received significant support from the world’s biggest carriers, some of which intend to work with OEM partners to bring phones to market this year. Engineering prototypes will be shown at Mobile World Congress (MWC) next week in Barcelona Spain.

Shuttleworth also noted that major carriers, such as Vodafone, T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom, and Verizon, have all shown their support for Ubuntu and an alternative operating system for the mobile market. In the short term, Canonical's goal is to become the number three mobile operating system after Android and Apple iOS.

Mark wants the company to be more than number three in the long run. "We think convergence is the next disruption for the mobile market," Shuttleworth said. "We think you'll be able to do personal computing on any device, We believe we're better positioned to take advantage of this change than any other vendor and we think we can capitalize on this." He observed that the still-born Ubuntu Edge project showed that people want to be able to do computing in the same way on whatever device is at hand.

Shuttleworth also believes that Google with Project Ara and Apple with its 64-bit A7 iPhone processor also see convergence as the big disrupter for the mobile market.

As for the rest of the mobile OS competition, Shuttleworth doesn't think Microsoft Phone or Blackberry is well positioned to take advantage of this change. As for the Samsung-backed Tizen operating system, he doesn't see this Linux-based mobile operating system as being any kind of threat. Indeed, Japan's largest carrier, NTT Docomo, no longer plans to release a Tizen-based smartphone in the Japanese market.

He continued, Canonical is also working with a breadth of independent software vendor (ISV) partners, including The Weather Channel, GrooveShark, Evernote and more, to bring the best applications and services to Ubuntu. The goal, Shuttleworth said, was to have the top 50 Android and iOS apps running on Ubuntu when the device starts shipping later in 2014.

Shuttleworth concluded, “The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all.”

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Linux, Mobile OS, MWC, Smartphones, Ubuntu

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28 comments
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  • Getting closer...

    As long time linux user(decade plus) i'm basically a kid at christmas about this. I've had a great time installing distros on my asus pad, and been eagerly awaiting this news.

    However.

    I think for now it's just going to be for us linux geeks? I've tried updtart os woth windows phone 7 and 8 and it's the app availability that crushes them.

    Having thr top 50 apps is, for a smartphone essential nowadays to theor function, and i'm guessing that these phones won't be converting anyone, after all ubuntu desktop has a long history of large bugs being resolved after the distro is released.

    The ability to dual boot on these with android is, i think going to be required for the first year at least...
    MarknWill
    • Dell. Where are you?

      Dell, you'd better call up Canonical now and sign up for Ubuntu phone.

      Why?

      Because convergent projects are going to kill your old business.

      Ubuntu phone has an established desktop version already, and will combine that with a phone that can run both desktop and mobile apps, and connect to a large monitor via HDMI or wireless link. It's very interesting stuff.
      Vbitrate
  • Irrelevant

    Who are these guys? No Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony or anyone even remotely recognizable? It'd be surprising if this project gains anymore market traction than its desktop equivalent.

    People said Windows Phone came to the party late, so that must mean Ubuntu showed up after they'd already turned out the light.
    Tiggster79
    • Irrelevant?

      So, from here on out, no oher OS should try to challenge the Android/iOS duopoly? I don't think so. MS beat out all contenders on the PC because it piggybacked on the most open platform. Android is more open than any of its competition, so it wins ... for now. Ubuntu and Firefox OS are even more open still, watch out! The mobile ecosystems seem to be a lot more fluid than the desktop, so it won't block Ubuntu touch like it has on the desktop. With Ubuntu, because of convergence, it's growing mobile ecosystem will support the desktop, and the growing desktop ecosystem will support mobile.
      perlwonk@...
  • Canonical announces first Ubuntu smartphone manufacturers

    Remember when that one linux company tried this back in 2005 and it failed miserably? This is going to be a lot like that. Hyped up by the linux fanboys, forgotten 3 months later by the rest of the world. So goes the product cycle of anything linux.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • Source/Links...

      “Remember when that one linux company tried this back in 2005 and it failed miserably?”
      RickLively
    • LD so quick to write it off....

      ....but of course he would. Its not Micro$haft.
      5735guy
    • bit like windows phone then hey love crock?

      Lots of hype... Small numbers slowly fades from sight.. Its wp all over.
      frankieh
  • Canonical impressed the critics at Mobile World Congress in 2013

    It will be interesting to see how much difference a year has made in development. It certainly looks Canonical has a good plan for launch and expansion later this year. Taking the number three spot from Microsoft could happen very quickly with a few goods phones and the right apps in the stable.

    Fast forward a couple of years and I can see Canonical's Ubuntu as the first "True Convergence" devices with Apple and Google also joining in the creation of the next big mobile market wave of "One OS across many devices" while Microsoft continues adjusting to the other market leaders.
    WhoRUKiddin
    • Who are U kidding?

      This Ubuntu/Canonical venture will be a bigger flop than Obamacare, and Obamacare is forced onto the people, while the Canonical "dumb" venture is just a hope-and-a-prayer type of device.
      adornoe
      • Is everything a political issue for you?

        Or does it just seem that way?

        I tend to worry about people who try to politicize everything as they strike me as the people most likely to send me to a "reeducation camp" should they ever find themselves in charge.
        John L. Ries
        • Have you ever heard of analogies?

          That's what my comment was, an analogy, while also making a very coherent point about the Canonical smartphone being pointless.

          Look up the word: analogy. You'll learn something new. Apparently, re-education is badly needed in your case.
          adornoe
          • Have you ever heard of "back pedaling"?

            Sounds like that is what you are doing, since your "analogy" of comparing a new smart phone venture against your desire to see Obamacare disappear, so Americans can go back to having to choose between death or bankruptcy makes no sense.
            anothercanuck
          • Yes, but...

            ...all your analogies are political. Don't you ever think of anything else?
            John L. Ries
          • Historical note

            "Reeducation camps" was what the North Vietnamese called their concentration camps after they conquered the South.
            John L. Ries
      • RE: hope-and-a-prayer type of device

        That would be the "One Windows" vision. Ubuntu Touch is the real deal when it comes to "One OS across many devices" not some made-up ting that Ballmer claimed Windows 8 was.
        WhoRUKiddin
      • Speaking of dumb venture...

        When you ventured to make such a dumb statement, you should have been more informed about the Ubuntu Touch Phone and these two manufacturers.

        Meizu is a giant in China and creates some amazing devices (such as the MX2) and BQ is the manufacturer of the extensive Aquarius line of smartphones.

        These are the first of more MFGs to announce Ubuntu Touch phones.
        WhoRUKiddin
    • Apple with a single OS on all devices?

      Steve J. is rolling over right now.
      dougpierson@...
  • If I can get my hands on one...

    ...I'm definitely interested. I'd like a bit more control over my phone than Android vendors usually like to provide and I still have this fantasy of hooking up my cell phone to a docking station and getting an X display.
    John L. Ries
    • me too

      I would hang a touch screen monitor in my kitchen and dock my phone whenever I wanted to look up a recepie, or stream some music to my bluetooth speakers.
      perlwonk@...