Having a great, Linux-based, mobile platform is one thing. Bringing it to the masses, in the form of actual smartphones (and tablets, phablets and whatever other words we're using to describe "devices we can hold in our hand" nowadays), is quite another.
Recent history is littered with the remains of Open Source (or, at least, predominantly Open Source) platforms that just never quite made it big. WebOS, Maemo, OpenZaurus and Openmoko are all sitting in a dingy pub somewhere, drowning their sorrows in whatever is on tap. And cheap, because they are all out of a job.
Luckily, that is not always the case.
Let's look at Ubuntu Touch, for example. This little platform really just recently jumped onto the scene – with the first fully usable (yet still early enough to be considered "developer-only") versions becoming available only a few short weeks ago.
Despite the relative youth of the platform, we are already seeing major steps taken towards that goal that elude so many Open Source mobile platforms: Shipping. On a phone that people can actually, you know, buy.
Canonical has announced the formation of the "Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group" – an organization that currently consists of the likes of Deutsche Telekom (read: T-Mobile) and EE (the biggest mobile network in the UK) and others. In other words: big mobile networks.
The point of this advisory group seems to be to, in the words of David Wood, chairman of the group, "have the opportunity to influence the Ubuntu roadmap." Members of the advisory group will also have first dibs at shipping commercial devices running Ubuntu Touch.
That is something worth noting. This means the first round of phones running Ubuntu Touch are likely to come from companies within this group.
It's also worth noting that this doesn't prohibit you (and me) from installing and running Ubuntu Touch on, say, a Nexus 4. This is an Open Source system, after all. The only limitation seems to be that, if you are going to build and sell a phone with Ubuntu Touch, and want to be one of the first companies on the market to do so, you're going to need to be on the Carrier Advisory Group.
And I'm cool with that.