The big disruptive announcement from Canonical this week about porting Ubuntu to smartphones had many Linux fans excited. Never mind that Android is a Linux-based OS; having Ubuntu on your phone for many Linux fold means a "real" Linux has finally gone mobile.
Android, for all of its Linux-ness, is just not Linux enough for many purists. There are questions around how open it really is, what Google has done with it, who really controls it, etc. On the other hand, Ubuntu is a downright Linux blueblood. Now Linux-heads can point with pride to Linux on the smartphone.
Despite all of the giddiness though, I have not seen any phone makers step up and say they will produce and sell an Ubuntu phone. I think other than one or two strictly for the curiosity factor, we probably won't see a headlong rush to manufacture Ubuntu phones either. We might see a CyanogenMod type of group develop an Ubuntu that can be installed on rooted versions of Android phones or maybe WebOS/Palm phones, heck maybe even a Windows phone. But, by and large, Ubuntu is not going to challenge Microsoft or even BlackBerry for smartphone market share, let alone Apple or Android.
So if Ubuntu is a non-factor on smartphones, you would guess I didn't think the announcement from Canonical was so disruptive, right Wrong. I do think it will prove to be disruptive, but not in the smartphone market. It could be a major factor in the tablet market. In fact, with tablets set to become a major percentage of the computing devices we use, this could be the backdoor to Linux finally achieving almost every Linux fan's dream: Linux on the desktop being a major player!
We have seen an explosion of Android-based tablets flood the market. In fact, when you go out of the U.S., especially to Asia, you see even more Android tablets, in many shapes, sizes and price points. There is no reason the same won't be true of Ubuntu tablets. However, to this point the plethora of Android tablets have not been able to dent Apple's iPad tablet market domination. An Ubuntu tablet featuring more desktop functionality married to the new touchscreen controls from Canonical could give business users a viable alternative to iOS and Android-based devices.
At the end of the day, people are going to talk, check email, tweet and Facebook on their phones. For the most part they don't really use more business type of applications. On a tablet, though, especially in some of the more dramatic form factors that we are seeing Windows 8 packaged in, Ubuntu could be a very attractive option.
Who would have thought that after all of these years Linux on the desktop could finally make its mark?