Canonical announces Ubuntu smartphone OS

Why build an Ubuntu-based smartphone operating system? Because it'll be even more closely tied to Linux than Android.

Just moments ago, Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu), unveiled their next big plan for world domination:

Ubuntu. For phones.

(As it turns out, the announcement wasn't a Jono Bacon Bobblehead as I had predicted and some enterprising individual created a website for. I still hold that the Ubuntu Community Manager needs to be immortalized in Bobble form.)

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No actual "Ubuntu Phones" are shipping today – we'll have to wait a year for that to happen (estimates are for early 2014) - but we do have some awfully cool goodies to play with, including an early release of the Ubuntu Phone SDK and, shortly, we should be getting OS images that can be installed on select devices, such as the Google Nexus 4.

So... why? Why build Ubuntu for phones when we already have Android, Sailfish/Mer and a few others?

We could talk about a number of ways that an Ubuntu Phone OS would differentiate itself, including planned support for "lower-end" phone hardware, integration with Ubuntu One services and cool tools for developers (including latest QML) - all great things that would get me to seriously consider using (and building software for) this new system. But, really, those are secondary reasons in my mind.

The primary reason I am excited for Ubuntu for Phone is simple: Canonical has the willpower and drive to make this a success.

Over the last several years we have seen a number of Linux-based Phone systems rise... and fall. Heck, I still have a number of those dead systems running on various devices around my desk. But take a look at what Canonical (and the entire Ubuntu team) has done on the desktop. They built a desktop-centric Linux OS with a focus on quality, design and "average user usability" – and it absolutely dominated the Linux landscape.

What's more, Canonical has working relationships with major OEMs (such as Dell). Those are the exact kind of relationships it needs to get a new OS loaded on a new shipping phone.

Added all together, this means we have the beginnings of a new Linux-based phone OS that:

  1. Is more closely tied to its Linux roots than many of the other systems, such as Android (Android is primarily a Java based environment, whereas Ubuntu's Phone system doesn't even have Java installed.)
  2. Stands an actually real chance of shipping in large quantity.

Was it a Jono Bacon Bobblehead? No. But it's almost as good.

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