Canonical founder: Ubuntu phones will ship in 2014, big supplier is committed to mobile UbuntuAlex Wagner - Deputy Managing Editor, News Desk
Following Canonical's announcement of Ubuntu for tablets, we're now getting our second helping of mobile Ubuntu news. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth today held a conference call to discuss Ubuntu for tablets, and during that talk, he also clarified some information about the release of Ubuntu for phones. A report from earlier this month that claimed that Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu smartphones would ship by October, but as noted by The Next Web and The Verge, today he clarified that that's when Ubuntu 13.10 and the full entry-level smartphone version of the OS will be made available for download on hardware like Google's Nexus devices. Shuttleworth expects new Ubuntu-powered smartphones to start arriving in Q1 2014, pointing to carrier testing as a reason for the wait.
Speaking of carriers, Shuttleworth touched a bit on his talks with operators and manufacturers about software skinning. He explained that while Ubuntu's open source nature means that Canonical doesn't have much control over what others do with it, companies have told him that they don't want to "recreate the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem" with Ubuntu's look. Instead, carriers are more interested in making their own services available to consumers. Shuttleworth went on to say that Canonical has allowed "multi-layered stores" of content in Ubuntu, where a carrier can choose what content is featured, but a user can find whatever they're looking for if he or she searches for it.
The Canoical founder also teased a bit about the talks that his company is in when it comes to new Ubuntu handsets. He said that a certain "very large supplier of silicon to the mobile industry" has agreed to use Ubuntu on mobile and to optimize it for their hardware. Shuttleworth says that the identity of the company will be revealed after Mobile World Congress wraps up at the end of February, and that the agreement with this firm has caused several other manufacturers to voice their support for mobile Ubuntu. He went on to tease that Canonical is in high-level talks with "top-tier" carriers in North America, Europe and China.
While we're still quite a ways out from actually seeing new Ubuntu-powered smartphones from hitting store shelves, Shuttleworth makes it sound like Canonical is putting in the behind-the-scenes work to secure some big partners for Ubuntu's entry into the mobile realm. Obviously we'll just have to wait to see how that all pans out, but the good news is that with the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Galaxy Nexus coming on Feb. 21, it won't be long before we're able to give a preview version of Ubuntu for phones and tablets a go for ourselves. Which carriers and manufacturers would you like to see back Ubuntu?