A little bit late to the news, so bear with us, but Ubuntu has used CES 2013 as a launching pad for its brand new mobile operating system. Based on the actual Linux OS, the new interface does look really good. But now, it is entering a crowded market – with Windows Phone, Android and iOS already prevalent, BlackBerry set to release their new phones, and Nokia still holding on in developing countries with Symbian. Could it succeed, or could it fall like webOS – remember that?
Palm used CES to launch not only the Pre, but also webOS. Of course, it is a little bit different. Ubuntu is saying that this OS is open, meaning that – like Android – any manufacturer could put this on their phones; while Palm’s webOS was locked in with its own devices. But with no manufacturing partners at CES 2013 to produce such a phone (its screenshots use Google’s Nexus phone), it might not even get some market share.
That being said, Canonical already has deals – for Ubuntu desktop, not smartphone – with Asus, Dell and Lenovo. All three have history of producing phones – though, they have all not been very successful globally.
The interface, like I said, does look really good. It does take some elements from MeeGo – such as touch gestures on all four edges of the screen (though, not all of the gestures). It does also take some elements from its rivals – such as a global search feature, a people’s hub, and voice and text commands. Applications can be both be native or HTML5 apps; and will heavily integrate its own cloud system Ubuntu One.
Ubuntu is also touting that it will focus on “content” – meaning that the controls will appear when they want them to appear. In other words, you will just see whatever the app presents; or, for example, photos from a recent trip.
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, wants this out by Q3 targeting “entry-level smartphones”, and targeting those who want a beautiful, but easy to use smartphone. The only problem: That is what Android, iOS, Windows Phone also use to promote themselves. On “high-end” phones, they want to create a new category – a “superphone” (seriously – they’re calling it that) where the phone essentially becomes a full PC when docked with a keyboard and monitor. Except that your “box” is your phone. The full version of Ubuntu would also be installed on these phones in order to facilitate this.
So, could this be the fourth OS? Probably not – but then again, if the hardware is really good and that the ecosystem is great, then it could give even Microsoft a run for its money.