updated 08:41 am EST, Wed December 11, 2013
In discussions with four more manufacturers for Ubuntu mobile OS
A smartphone running on Ubuntu Touch will be available in 2014, according to Canonical founder and product strategy leader Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical has signed an agreement with an unnamed manufacturer to have the Linux distribution put onto high-end smartphones, with other manufacturers also apparently in talks to do likewise.
"We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones," revealed Shuttleworth to CNET, claiming that the company has shifted from "making a concept" to "it's going to ship," with the change having a "big impact on the team." As for other manufacturers, Shuttleworth advised "We are now pretty much at the board level on four household brands. They sell a lot of phones all over the world, in emerging and fully emerged markets, to businesses and consumers."
Though the addition of another mobile OS will not cause much trouble for iOS and Android, Ubuntu's move into the mobile space could add more uncertainty to operating systems still struggling to take off. Tizen has yet to make it onto a commercial mobile device, though it is used on a Samsung camera, a tablet for developers, and a to-be-launched smart refrigerator. Firefox OS has started to appear on entry-level devices in some markets, but the range of smartphones running it is still relatively small.
This is not Canonical's first foray into the smartphone industry, as it attempted to crowdfund a device earlier this year. The Ubuntu Edge would have been a powerful Ubuntu OS smartphone that could run as a full Ubuntu desktop when connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. After setting a target of $32 million, the efforts of over 27,000 backers raised just $12.8 million, failing to reach even halfway to the goal.