Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth says additional details will be available at Mobile World Congress, although he implied that Meizu’s phone will basically be a version of the Meizu MX3 running Ubuntu instead of Android.
Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth says the first two partners were selected thanks to their expertise in breaking into markets. Bq has a reputation for designing high-end devices in Europe, while Meizu is becoming a big name in the Chinese market… and has plans to go global soon.
Canonical introduced Ubuntu for phones a little over a year ago, and the company has been releasing public beta builds for installation on Google Nexus phones and tablets since then. But so far you haven’t been able to buy a phone that comes preloaded with Ubuntu software.
At this point, Ubuntu for phones and tablets is a touchscreen-friendly, Linux-based operating system designed to run mobile apps rather than desktop Linux apps. But eventually the platform could let you run full desktop-style apps on your phone — Canonical says that the ultimate goal is for Ubuntu’s desktop and phone operating systems to be one operating system, sharing about 95 percent the same code.
One day you could be able to use your phone as a phone while on the go, then attach it to a docking station to run desktop apps with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
For now, the team has been focusing on attracting developers to its new mobile platform.
Canonical will be showing off Ubuntu phones and tablets at Mobile World Congress during the last week of February and while the big news right now is the imminent launch of Ubuntu phones. Shuttleworth says tablets fit more into its traditional PC mold.
Shuttleworth clearly has a vested interest in promoting Ubuntu as an open alternative to Google Android, but when asked for his thoughts on rival Tizen, which is backed by Samsung and Intel, he had some pretty harsh words. He says Tizen looks like less of a competitor today than 6 months ago, after facing many delays. Ultimately, he says, he finds it “highly unlikely that Tizen will be adopted by any manufacturer, or shipped by any carrier.”
While Ubuntu is open source software, Shuttleworth says Canonical’s business model for the platform involves charging device makers a license fee and generating revenue from app store sales (which will be shared with carrier and manufacturer partners).
Canonical says the first Ubuntu phones will be available for purchase online from bq, Meizu, and Ubuntu.com.