Canonical hopes its Ubuntu Touch software will be ready to ship on smartphones in the coming year. Right now you can download and install a preview build on dozens of Android-powered handsets, but it’ll likely be a while before you can buy a smartphone that comes with the OS from your wireless carrier.
But Canonical announced a new Carrier Advisory Group, which might give us a good idea who some of the first carriers to offer Ubuntu phones will be.
The Carrier Advisory Group for Ubuntu includes wireless carriers around the globe. Members will get early access to information about Ubuntu’s phone plans and details about manufacturers looking to use the operating system. The carriers will also provide feedback to Canonical and help shape the future of the company’s mobile operating system.
Members will also have a “the opportunity to be a launch partner,” which suggests that nobody’s actually committed to offering Ubuntu handsets yet, but they’re expressing interest in the possibility. Or something.
Canonical’s Jono Bacon says the first two launch partners will be members of the group, with the next wave of Ubuntu phones launching 6 months later.
The advisory group will help Canonical plan the future of the platform with input on app stores, payment services, and more. Canonical says it’s also seeking input on topics such as the ability for operators and device makers to differentiate one Ubuntu Touch device from another without leading to platform fragmentation, and the portability of Android and BlackBerry apps to run on Ubuntu.
Initial members of the group include Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Korea Telecom, Telecom Italia, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, and SK Telecom and an unnamed carrier referred to as “the leading Spanish international carrier.”
Canonical’s decision to provide members of the Carrier Advisory Group with information that’s not publicly available is sure to annoy some folks who’ve been concerned that too much Ubuntu development is now taking place behind closed doors, and that the operating system isn’t the community-driven project it once was.
On the other hand, wireless carriers haven’t exactly made a habit of developing their plans in public, and this might be a necessity of doing business in this space if you don’t want your OS to be relegated to a hobbyist niche.