Ubuntu eyes smartphone, tablet market

Company behind Linux-based open source operating system, Ubuntu, looking to spread its wings to other form factors including smart TV, says founder, who points to Google's Android as main competitor.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

The company behind Ubuntu is planning to extend the open source operating system (OS) beyond desktop and servers to other form factors such as smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical which is the leading backer of Ubuntu, said the move was a natural expansion of Canonical's idea of Ubuntu as the "Linux for human beings". Speaking to ZDNet US in an interview, Shuttleworth said: "As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it's important for us to reach out to community on these platforms. So, we'll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens."

Canonical will expand the desktop OS to other computing devices after it launches version 12.04 of Ubuntu. Shuttleworth noted that the company's short-term plan was to make this release, which would be the next long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu, as stable as possible and give its Unity desktop interface a final polish for home and business users.

According to Ubuntu's wiki page, the LTS version of its desktop and server OS is usually released every two years. The LTS version allows users to have three years of support for Ubuntu Desktop and five years for Ubuntu Server. The company also has regular releases every six months which receive security updates for at least 18 months.

While the tablet ecosystem is currently dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android, Shuttleworth said there were opportunities for "disruptive elements" to establish themselves and that "Ubuntu and [Microsoft] Windows can still be a real force".

For Ubuntu on the tablet, he pointed to Android as the company's main competitor. He noted that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility had shaken up some of the hardware vendors, driving them to look for non-Android alternatives.

He added that there would be "plenty of room to share revenue with providers" and companies that had already shipped tablets were looking to have Ubuntu on their slate devices. He also said that the OS already has a developer and customer base.

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