The future of Ubuntu on mobile: Canonical forms carrier group to shape OS

The future of Ubuntu on mobile: Canonical forms carrier group to shape OS

Summary: Canonical is hoping to lure mobile operators to back Ubuntu with the promise of having a helping hand in the OS' development.


Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has launched an advisory group for mobile carriers to help them influence the development of its emerging mobile OS.

Canonical is aiming to deliver Ubuntu on smartphones by 2014, with devices running the Ubuntu Touch mobile OS scheduled to be ready for testing at the start of this month.

With the OS still being molded, Canonical has set up the Carrier Advisory Group (CAG). Announced on Tuesday, the CAG will give founding members a chance to shape the direction of some components of the OS for smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

European carriers in CAG include Germany's Deutsche Telekom, the UK's EE, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom, and another company mysteriously only identified as "the leading Spanish international carrier" — presumably Telefonica, which is also taking a lead role in the development of Mozilla's Firefox OS.

Three carriers from South Korea have joined CAG too, including LG UPlus, Korea Telecom and SK Telecom. The latter two are also part of the Tizen Association.

According to Canonical's community manager Jono Bacon, members will get "early access to silicon, as well as OEM and ODM partners involved in the Ubuntu mobile initiative". Members can also launch Ubuntu devices before non-members, with the first two launch partners to be selected from within the CAG. The next wave of device launches will follow six months later. However, when that launch might actually be is still something of a mystery: Canonical has yet to announce support from manufacturers.

Canonical says invitations are open to any national or international carrier to join the CAG until the end of July.  

Topics open for discussion at regular meetings will include:

  • Differentiation for OEMs and operators
  • Developer ecosystems and application portability from Android and Blackberry
  • HTML5 standards, performance and compatibility
  • Marketplaces for apps, content and services
  • Revenue share models for publishers, operators and OEMs
  • Payment mechanisms and standards
  • Platform fragmentation
  • Consumer and enterprise market segments and positioning

"The CAG is an important partnership between Canonical and the mobile industry," Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, said in a statement.

"While Ubuntu has gained tremendous traction in both cloud and PC environments, we recognise the complex dynamics of the mobile market and so the CAG allows us to draw on the insights and support of such a thoughtful and experienced group of industry partners. We aim to deliver a platform that delights everyone who touches it and meets industry requirements of quality, security, manageability and differentiation."

Topics: Mobility, Android, Mobile OS, Ubuntu, EU

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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  • Mobile Carriers?

    Yes, it is always a good idea to involve mobile carriers in shaping your mobile OS. Not as if they are going to put their interest like bleeding the subscriber dry by shovelling the OS full of junkware, right.

    Oh wait.
    • There's only one problem with that

      Ubuntu Touch has a terminal, so removing things would be rather simple.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • are you sure about that?

        Can I have a source please? I only asked because last I heard there wouldn't be a terminal STOCK with it.

        Also, having bloatware on Ubuntu touch wouldn't be a problem. You could just download the image straight from canonical instead of getting a pre-installed phone.
  • The first change I'd make, as a carrier

    is to get rid of all that brown! Shuttleworth makes a lot of strange decisions, but his insistence that brown be the default colour scheme (even before the Unity days) is puzzling.

    Yes I know that is easily changed, but you want to put your best foot forward, no?
    • Brown until late 2009

      Canonical removed all the brown back in 2009...

      Now it is purple and orange!

      Time to get a retina display ?

  • EVERYTHING Canonical does is always a mystery, created by...guess who

    "...and another company MYSTERIOUSLY only identified as "the leading Spanish international carrier"

    " However, when that launch might actually be is still something of a MYSTERY: Canonical has yet to announce support from manufacturers."

    ""The CAG is an important partnership between Canonical and the mobile industry," Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, said in a statement."

    --maybe for Canonical, but not for any of the heavy-hitters in the 'mobile industry'.
  • this is really important for Ubuntu on mobile

    look at FFOS. it's pretty craptastic, but it has huge carrier support which spurred great OEM support. Ubuntu is a much better platform, but it has no chance if it can't get the industry behind it.
  • It takes a lot of work

    to bring carriers and OEMs together over a new mobile OS but it looks like it is going to work out very well. Setting up a CAG is a good step in the right direction.

    Ubuntu Touch offers a unique opportunity for OEMs and carriers in that a device bundle can be offered that gives the user everything needed for computing in a mobile world. Having a phone that can dock to a tablet with the ability to add a keyboard and mouse or laptop base opens up a whole new world of possibilities to OEMs who are suffering from slow PC sales. I would like to see all of those options offered in one box at retail.