Trying to imagine a world with more than just iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry as proprietary mobile operating systems isn't exactly easy once you come to terms with the fact that the smartphone industry is very hard to break into now that it has become as saturated and settled as it has. Although the concept of developing new platforms isn't anything new, so far we haven't really had anything that competitive come into play yet. Only recently we've seen Firefox OS, which seems like it will always have its sights set low, and Jolla's Sailfish OS, which will have its own hurdles being a completely new company with a completely new operating system. Even the two less popular platforms, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, are struggling to keep up with the massive interest geared towards Android and iOS, so how on earth is some other platform going to be able to take on not just the larger two, but all four platforms?
I'm not saying that it's going to be easy, but I think if anybody is going to generate interest in a new mobile OS it just might be Canonical with Ubuntu Touch OS. As it turns out, we might not have to wait too long before we start seeing Ubuntu Touch OS phones on the market, as the company's founder has just recently revealed that they have scored their first smartphone partner. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, says that he expects the phones to start being offered on high-end smartphones by the end of next year. As for who the first smartphone partner is? Well, we're not really sure; they won't say who at the moment. I could sit here an speculate all day, but you and I both know that would just be getting our hopes up for no reason. And I'm not saying I hope it's HTC, but I am saying I wouldn't be mad if it was.
But that's another discussion for another time, my friends. To be quite honest, in the end I think I'm just happy that it's happening. It's kind of how I felt when I first read that there are plans in motion for an Android-powered Nokia device - I wanted to see it happen, and it's happening. The difference between Ubuntu Touch OS and the Nokia/Android announcements is that while the Nokia/Android device is unclear whether it would progress any further than being a low-end Android device, Shuttleworth makes it quite clear that he's hoping for Ubuntu to become something competive and something big.
It's impossible to tell at this point, but we do have some context to run off of when it comes to Canonical's vision of what a smartphone operating system should look like. Canonical has dabbled with a mobile version of Ubuntu already, and we've been seeing promo videos and demonstrations of the platform for about a year now. Some of you might even remember the crowdfunding campaign for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone, which failed to meet its target of $32 million dollars before they could begin production. After that, although Canonical stood by the fact that they would still be investing on the mobile side of computing, it wasn't quite clear exactly how soon they would be back on the saddle. I am personally rather surprised (yet pleased) to see that they're back again so soon with such good news.
Ever since I saw a demonstration of Ubuntu Touch OS on the Galaxy Nexus, I was a fan. The design looked clean and it seemed to operate smoothly. An operating system needs more than just a pretty face a fast response time, of course, but it seemed that Canonical was off to a pretty good start with what they had to work with. Given that Ubuntu was able to run on a device running Android, I wouldn't be surprised to know if Android apps would be supported on Ubuntu. Even if it's not, it seems like it might be pretty easy for developers to port something similar over to Ubuntu Touch OS - at least, that's the hope. It's pretty clear that applications are a huge part of what interests consumers in smartphones, and no matter how good the design element of an OS is, if you don't have the right kind of apps you're going to have a bad time. But I'm sure this is something that Canonical already knows.
I'm already impressed with what Ubuntu Touch OS has planned, so if the statements hold true and we do see Ubuntu Touch OS phones on shelves next year, I really hope that I'll be able to include the device in my line-up of potential "Gotta Have It" phones.
So what about you, readers? When it comes to new platforms, specifically Ubuntu, do you think that the platform has what it takes to be competitive in such a tough market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image via Tutorials Point