Canonical to ship Ubuntu smartphones this year

By Graeme Burton
19 Feb 2014 View Comments
ubuntu-phone-2014

Despite failing to convince enough punters to dip their hands in their pockets to help fund the development of "Ubuntu for Phones" last year, Canonical have nevertheless announced that the first smartphones running its mobile Linux operating system will ship this year.

The company claims to have signed agreements with device manufacturers BQ of Spain and China's Meizu to produce the phones, with the first hardware shipping within months. The phones produced by these companies - neither of which are exactly household names - will be available globally over the internet or, potentially, via carriers.

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Furthermore, a number of operators are working with Canonical to bring the smartphones to market via that channel. Canonical's Carrier Advisory Group currently has 16 members, including Vodafone, EE, T-Mobile USA, Three Group, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, Telstra and Portugal Telecom.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said that the Ubuntu smartphone operating system "puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all".

The operating system will be different from the Ubuntu for Phones concept rejected by investors when the company went on Kickstarter last year to raise funds to support it. Then, it was developing a premium-priced smartphone that could be used as a phone on the move, but docked in the home or office for use as a powerful workstation. 

Today's offering represents a more operator-friendly approach.

In the press release, the company explained: "Ubuntu puts content and services at the centre of the experience, rather than hiding them behind stores and apps.

"This gives consumers a fresh and rich way to engage with their favourite videos, music and other mobile activities. It also means OEMs and operators have unprecedented customisation opportunities with a common user interface toolkit, which gives devices their own unique footprint and without fragmenting the platform."

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