Canonical signs up first Ubuntu Touch OS maker, high-end phones coming in 2014

Canonical signs up first Ubuntu Touch OS maker, high-end phones coming in 2014

Summary: A mystery device maker has agreed to ship Ubuntu Touch OS smartphones, which will arrive next year.

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Canonical, the organisation behind the Linux-based Ubuntu OS, has signed up its first mobile hardware partner.

Canonical has been fairly quiet of late about its mobile operating system Touch OS, but the company has been making progress behind closed doors. According to founder Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical has signed up an unnamed company to use its OS — and will begin offering it on high-end phones in 2014.

"We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones," Shuttleworth told ZDNet's sister site, CNET. "We've shifted gears from 'making a concept' to 'it's going to ship'. That has a big impact on the team."

That's good news for the organisation, which in August failed to raise the £32m it was seeking on Indiegogo to launch its own high-end smartphone dubbed Ubuntu Edge.

The device would have run 'Ubuntu OS for Android' if it had reached its goal, making it different to Ubuntu Touch OS phone. Similar to other early-stage platforms, such as BlackBerry 10 and Finnish startup Jolla's Sailfish OS, the company was aiming to use the Android app ecosystem to make its own platform more appealing.

Shuttleworth said that Canonical makes no claims for Android compatibility. However, he said that the stretch for Android developers to support Ubuntu wouldn't be far off what it takes to support Android's fragmented device market. Apps for Ubuntu Touch will work on Ubuntu OS-based PCs.

Shuttleworth said Canonical was in "board level" discussions with four other household brands to carry the OS which, if it comes through, might help spread it to both developed and emerging markets.

Any Touch device bearing the OS would join a crowded field of OSes attempting to carve out a niche beneath Android and iOS, including Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Samsung-backed Tizen, and Sailfish OS, in addition to alternative Android firmware providers, such as CyanogenMod.

Similar to Mozilla's Open Web App-based Firefox OS, Ubuntu hopes developers and carriers will embrace its open approach. It's also established an Ubuntu Touch carrier advisory group, which consists of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, the UK's EE, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom, LG UPlus, Korea Telecom, and SK Telecom.

Further reading

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Linux, Mobility, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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Talkback

9 comments
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  • Ubuntu

    Well done Mark. I cant wait for the phone next year. Now think some one design a new dock station which will take a SSD and a fast Graphic card, power supply and fan. A super computer in your pocket!! When this happen Ubuntu one will make a very large dent in the desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and Ubuntu TV with their one for all systems. Window are only starting to think in that direction, and what about Apple?
    heldemanpieter
    • Ubuntu one will make a very large dent in the desktop?

      Why, is it running Windows?
      William.Farrel
      • But what will you say

        when NokiaSoft starts making Ubuntu Touch phones with tablet docks?
        WhoRUKiddin
  • DOA

    this will be a faint memory of very few next December.
    greywolf7
    • Can you say why?

      Or is it just your objection to anything not Microsoft?
      jessepollard
  • Please sign up Asus!

    and get it on the Padfone Infinity 2 with a keyboard dock.
    Don't try to compete with iPad or any average tablet - this is bleeding edge tech!
    warboat
  • High end?

    I was rather supprised to hear that they are going to try a high end device. Then I thought over the ubuntu edge campaign where we raised a little over 12 million dollars... which is over 1.3 million firefox OS phones (assuming firefox sells for 90$ a pop). I can see why a retailer may be be inclined to try and sell a high end device (genious manoeuvre on Canonicals part), I hope this pays out.
    side note I am pretty sure firefox has sold over 1.3 million devices at this point but $12,000,000 is an impressive number to generate in a month anyhow.
    gregshw
    • Actually, high end makes sense.

      It would allow them to make a good presentation on what they can do, and how it can be done.

      Of course, it would also help to be successful, but even a market failure can still be good for showing what can be done.

      It is easier to reduce features, than to add them.
      jessepollard
  • Dock station

    Well done Mark. I cant wait for the phone next year. Now think some one design a *new* dock station which will take a SSD and a fast Graphic card, power supply and fan. A super computer in your pocket!! When this happen Ubuntu one will make a very large dent in the desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and Ubuntu TV with their one for all systems. Window are only starting to think in that direction, and what about Apple?
    heldemanpieter