Ubuntu phones to ship in 2014

February 19, 2013
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Ubuntu

We saw a pretty great Ubuntu tablet today, which of course led everyone to wonder just when we’ll get that Ubuntu phone we’ve been hearing about off and on. Today, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, gave us a much better idea: 2014, not late 2013.

Citing that Ubuntu 13.10, which is the phone-friendly version of the popular OS, will be available sometime late this year, he noted that many devices won’t be ready for them until early 2014. Why the delay? Carriers will need a little time to test those devices out before they’re comfortable selling them. He also mentioned that Ubuntu was working on low and high end devices, clearly an attempt to gain better market saturation. No word yet on who Ubuntu is partnering with on those devices, but we know there will be at least two.

Need another wrinkle to this story? Ubuntu may be available for carriers to do with as they please, a move we see with Android all too often. With such a fragmented space already present in Android, we’re left to wonder if Ubuntu will only complicate the issue. In addressing that, Shuttleworth said:

“We’ve had fairly substantial conversations… none of [the carriers or OEMs] have expressed a desire to recreate the fragmentation of the Android operating system.”

Carriers and their desires are a major contributing factor in fragmentation, so we hope Ubuntu treads lightly. While Google has the Open Handset Alliance to help keep partners honest, Ubuntu currently has no such leverage. So far, it seems Ubuntu is going to rely on handshake deals to work with carriers and manufacturers on keeping Ubuntu true to form. Good luck with that, Mark.

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