aNewDomain.net — A week before the Mobile World Congress 2014 kicked off in Barcelona, Canonical from the world of Ubuntu announced big news for its Ubuntu Phone operating system.
Canonical announced that two big OEMs — these are BQ and Meizu — are on board to push out a consumer-grade Ubuntu Phone smartphone. And there’s no Android or Apple iOS in the fine print, either.
It’s great news for Ubuntu users who have cheered on the Ubuntu Phone platform.
If BQ and Meizu are new names to you, scroll below and allow me to elaborate on those OEMs and on the Ubuntu Phone landing at large.
Image credit: Ant Pruitt
In India and China, BQ and Meizu are big players in the smartphone manufacturing business. That’s one reason why you can’t take their support for the Ubuntu Phone operating system lightly.
No, they’re not Samsung or Apple, but who’s to say the likes of Samsung wouldn’t jump on board? In the end, that’s what Ubuntu Phone needs to grow to the masses. But this is a huge jumpstart for the Ubuntu Phone OS.
I enjoyed checking out the Ubuntu Phone developer preview and saw great potential in the OS.
But just as Ubuntu on the desktop is pretty geek-centric, the Ubuntu Phone platform is going to have a rough time reaching the mainstream.
Say “Linux” or “Ubuntu” to most non-geeks and you’ll get a confused-dog expression.
Command line interfaces, repositories and flashing kernels are all things your average desktop or smartphone customer will refuse to deal with. But Ubuntu Phone stands to turn some of that around.
That’s why the Ubuntu Phone will just have to work. And it’ll have to work great.
Image credit: Ant Pruitt for aNewDomain
Will the U.S. carriers buy in?
Okay, so with the simple Ubuntu Phone interface, you’ve got to wonder about the acceptance factor in terms of U.S. carriers.
Will the likes of Verizon Wireless allow for this device to run on its network free from bloatware?
It’s been the norm for mobile carriers to delay the launch of devices on its networks. Typically, the reasons for this boil down to control over the device features — and to scrutinize over how it would perform on the mobile network.
What happens if the OS receives an update similar to the Android operating system going from 4.1 to 4.2?
Will all Ubuntu touch devices be created equal to allow for uniform updating regardless of carrier? Or is this strictly up to the carriers?
I personally would like to see yet another player in the mobile marketplace. We have Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone and, of course, Blackberry.
Is there room for another option? I don’t think so. I know so. More options are always better. Choice brings cost down.
And there are a lot of us Ubuntu hounds around who just can’t wait to see how or whether the Ubuntu Phone platform heats up the marketplace.
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I’m Ant Pruitt and this is aNewDomain.net.
Based in Charlotte, NC, Ant Pruitt is an IT pro, a columnist and the podcast captain at aNewDomain.net. Look for his Smartphone Photographers Community and Yet Another Tech Show. Follow him @ihavnolyfe or on Google+ and email him at email@example.com. See all Ant’s articles on aNewDomain by following this link here.
A nicely written piece that makes me excited about Ubuntu Phone possibilities.
Interesting. What would finally be nice is for the end user to be in full control of updates. I don’t know if this will bring that to the table. Plus, gaining traction is going to be an issue, at least in the US.
I totally agree with you about US traction, Robert Knight. Thanks for reading and your comment!
excellent insight, Robert Knight
Good piece, but I’m slightly puzzled by a couple of your references. Ubuntu users on desktop or phone never have to see a command-line interface. Touch does have a Terminal (CLI) app for geek use, but the mainstream will be more than happy with the Unity graphical interface.
Similarly, how do repositories differ from app stores? Nearly all Ubuntu Touch mobile apps will be delivered through a “Click Store” that should pretty much replicate the Google Play/Apple App Store experience.
And I don’t know about you, but Apple just “flashed the kernel” on my iPod Touch this week. You do have to flash the kernel of your test device to run the preview versions, but that’s why it’s important to have OEMs and carriers on board to have Ubuntu preloaded. 8-)
I do agree that the potentially epic battle between carriers’ drive for control (via bloatware) and Ubuntu’s drive to put users in control will determine how successful Ubuntu Touch will be.