Ubuntu-powered handsets to ship later this year, more details at MWC

by: Andrew GrushFebruary 19, 2014

Ubuntu phone now being guided by an advisory group

While Ubuntu’s mobile OS shows a fair amount of promise, getting the phone effort off the ground hasn’t exactly been easy for Canonical. Although Ubuntu has supported a few Android devices for a while now, they’ve yet to introduce their own hardware and are still very behind when it comes to the existence of mobile apps.

After last year’s failure to produce enough funds for the Ubuntu Edge’s ambitious crowdfunding campaign, many of us have been wondering when exactly we’ll see the first mobile devices with Ubuntu pre-installed. Today Canonical has announced the first Ubuntu-powered handsets will ship sometime later this year, with Spain’s BQ and China’s Meizu both signed up as hardware partners.

The big question is whether or not the company even has a chance at making a dent in the mobile world

Although Ubuntu and its partners aren’t getting into specifics just yet, we do know that the handsets will focus on the mid-to-high-range market. Considering we’ve seen a leaked image of a Meizu MX3 running Ubuntu in the past, it’s possible that Meizu’s Ubuntu handset will simply be a rebranded MX3, though that’s just speculation on our part. Hopefully we’ll know more soon enough, as Canonical’s founder Mark Shuttleworth says that more details about their Ubuntu phone efforts will be shared at MWC next week.

The big question is whether or not the company even has a chance at making a dent in the mobile world. On one hand, we’re happy to see another opensource OS make its way to the mobile world. On the other hand, the mobile market is already extremely crowded and Canonical doesn’t exactly have the deep pockets that may be required to really push itself forward so late in the game.

Still, Ubuntu on mobile could certainly prove to be popular among Ubuntu and Linux fans looking for a ‘purer’ Linux experience than Android has to offer. It’s also no secret that the Chinese-optimized Ubuntu Kylin desktop OS has been very popular in China, with over 1,300,000 downloads in less than six months. This means that the Chinese market could be an important opportunity for Canonical, if they play their cards right.

What do you think, can Ubuntu carve out at a small share of the market at least as a distant fourth place contender? Conversely, do you feel the project will remain nothing more than a very limited niche offering? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • Shark Bait

    Probably too late to the game. Even microsoft with their much larger resources are struggling to make any more than a dent

    • KillEmAllx

      Yes but Windows phone sucks. It’s really bad. Ubuntu phone will run Mobile versions of the Ubuntu desktop apps (I think), and you will be able to connect the phone to a bigger screen and use it as a full desktop PC. That’s something I’m sure many users would appreciate. Imagine having your laptop in your pocket, freaking awesome.

      • Shark Bait

        yes that does sound awesome, although i don’t think its going to be ready for a while. What would be cool is if it pressured Google into doing the same thing with chrome os.
        Ultimately i think its looking ike the second best OS out there, theirs some real nice, new ideas in there. Unfortunately I think their a little fish in a big shark tank

  • Amadeus Klein

    Anything is possible, But I think they will have to get in on the ground floor of the next Tech Wave to make a real impact. Smartphones/Tablets are too mature now to see any real change in the OS landscape especially with the power players out there now…

  • Jayfeather787

    I like Android a lot for mobile and Ubuntu for desktop. I have an Ubuntu computer and it is simply amazing. I really hope it does well in mobile too. More people should know about it.

  • IronLiver

    If they want to join the game they should have thought of producing some HD games that will attract users to want their OS.