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

Canonical is hoping to lure mobile operators to back Ubuntu with the promise of having a helping hand in the OS' development.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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."

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