Canonical formed the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group nearly a month ago with the purpose of gathering operators to discuss the development of Ubuntu for mobile and to help shape it into a compelling platform. The CAG started with members like Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere and SK Telecom, and now Verizon Wireless has become the first U.S. carrier in the group.
In Canonical's official announcement of the news, Verizon Director of Device Technology Samir Vaidya explained that his carrier decided to join the CAG so that it could "participate in technology discussions around this new platform, which has the ability to bring new and exciting features to developers and ultimately, customers." Verizon's membership in the CAG doesn't guarantee that we'll see an Ubuntu phone on the big red carrier's shelves, though; both Canonical and Verizon have told Ars Technica that Verizon's decision to join the CAG doesn't mean that it's committing to launch an Ubuntu-powered handset.
Some of the benefits of being a CAG member include gaining advance briefings about Ubuntu for mobile and having the opportunity to be a launch partner for Ubuntu smartphones. Verizon may not be ready to commit to launching an Ubuntu phone quite yet, but its CAG membership gives it the chance to be one of the first to market with Ubuntu hardware if it does decide to go that route. Verizon's decision to join the CAG could give it the opportunity to evaluate Ubuntu and decide whether or not it wants to back the new platform as an alternative to existing OSes.
As I mentioned before, Verizon is the first U.S. operator to join the CAG. It may not be the last, though, as the group is open to any interested operators and will remain that way through July. Canonical has said that it expects to launch the first Ubuntu phones sometime in the first quarter of 2014.