Remember the Indiegogo campaign that popped up back in 2013 for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone? If not, it’s okay; it’s just important to know that it happened. At the time, Ubuntu for phones and a Ubuntu smartphone was a pretty big deal. Ubuntu, an already popular open-sourced operating system for computers, had arguably the best potential to become the “fifth” major operating system in the smartphone industry. Unfortunately, the goal needed for the Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign, which was $32 million, was never reached (although it did manage to earn a staggering $12.8 million).
It seemed like all public ambition for Ubuntu in the smartphone world plummeted after that, although news would pop up here and there of continued plans for the operating system to eventually appear in smartphones and on the market. Finally, in 2015, a Ubuntu smartphone will be hitting shelves.
I’ve posed the question before asking our readers whether they thought Ubuntu (and other new platforms) was too late to make a big impression in the smartphone industry. With Android and iOS dominating the majority of the market, it looks like a daunting task to say the least. After all, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, two well-established smartphone operating systems, still have trouble gaining grounds on market share. What’s to say that anything else will have any better luck?
I do think that Ubuntu deserves a chance, in the very least. They already have a recognizable name, so they’re not coming in without any sort of reputation. It would also seem like Ubuntu’s platform does have unique offerings, which could end up helping (or, alternatively, hurting) its potential success.
The first Ubuntu smartphone will run on hardware made by Spanish company BQ. The BQ Aquarius E4.5 is a phone that normally runs Android, but the BQ Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will, of course, be altered to run Ubuntu’s smartphone operating system instead. The phone will be sold at a competitive price of €169.90, or about $193 in U.S. currency. A sub-$200 smartphone is a good start, as affordability is increasingly becoming important for smartphones.
According to The Independent, here’s some features we can expect out of Ubuntu:
“The operating system’s features include the fact that it has no lock screen. Applications will unlock when needed, and the screen instead shows a circle in the middle that visualizes what’s happening on the device.”
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what that’s going to be like. The idea of no lock screen baffles me, because I’ve always thought a lockscreen was necessary in order to stop any unwanted butt dials or potential mishaps. Hopefully this device has a really good sensor. As for the applications being unlocked when needed and the circle in the middle visualizes what’s happening on the device bit... I honestly I have no idea what to expect from that, either.
Most importantly, though, Ubuntu on smartphones seems to serve the same purpose that it serves on computers: to be a free and open source Linux operating system. A playground for developers, which means it has the potential to be just about anything you want it to be. A world of pure imagination, if you will.
With this being the first Ubuntu smartphone, I expect hiccups. I will probably end up waiting a while so that people who really know what to expect out of this operating system (Ubuntu is not something I have gotten familiar with yet) can say it’s a successful smartphone port. However, I do think that this is something I would be interested in using in the future if it ends up making it Stateside. As of right now, I will not be making any potential switches.
For next week’s official release of the operating system, countries across Europe will have access to the BQ Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition.