Ubuntu Touch smartphones not expected to get a major release until 2015

No major carriers are expected to ship a smartphone running the Ubuntu Touch OS until 2015, according to Ubuntu's community manager.

No major handset makers are expected to ship a smartphone running the Ubuntu Touch OS until 2015.

Ubuntu Touch, a version of the Ubuntu operating system targeted at mobile devices, was launched in February last year  and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, recently announced it had struck a deal with a handset manufacturer to ship an Ubuntu Touch handset.

However, when the first Ubuntu Touch phone does ship it appears it will not be with a major handset manufacturer/carrier.

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu community manager, told a Reddit AMA session this week:

"Longer-term we would love to see the major OEM/Carriers shipping Ubuntu handsets. This is a long road though with many components, and I would be surprised if we see anything like this before 2015.

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"When the major OEMs/Carriers ship, this is when many of the ISVs will be on-board too."

The first Ubuntu Touch handsets are instead likely to be shipped by a smaller handset manufacturer, according to Bacon.

"In the shorter-term there are smaller OEMs who serve a smaller region who see great opportunity in Ubuntu, and their costs and risk are smaller for them to trial a device. This is where we will likely see the first handsets shipping," he said.

"My hope is that when one of these smaller OEMs ships an Ubuntu handset that it sells well and it sends a strong message to other OEMs too."

Ubuntu's move into the mobile space has been far from smooth, its IndieGoGo campaign to fund the production of the Ubuntu Edge, a powerful handset running Ubuntu Touch and Android that would serve as both a desktop PC and a mobile failed to raise the necessary cash .

The Ubuntu Touch OS is also still immature, having only hit version 1.0 in October last year and with a limited selection of applications.

"I think the ideal customer today is someone who wants a dependable device but does not require a large catalogue of specific apps (as we don't have many of them yet)," Bacon said.

The current version of Ubuntu Touch supports the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 phones, but there are images available for other phones and tablets.

Ultimately, in line with Canonical's vision of a having a single computing device to serve as a phone and desktop PC, Canonical plans to merge the code base for every version of the Ubuntu OS, across desktops, phones, tablets and servers.

Further reading on Ubuntu Touch