Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Ubuntu Phone - Too Little, Too Late?

So, the Ubuntu Phone is finally coming, although it's not all that we thought it might be. According to first reports, the handset will no longer act as an extension to your Ubuntu pc and some pretty fundamental applications will not be ported in the early releases of the smartphone.

"Unlike the original proposal, the handset does not become a desktop PC when plugged into a monitor. Source: BBC Technology

For instance, Leo Kelion is reporting that both Whatsapp & Skype will be absent from the first handsets.

Whilst I realize that this is a new (and very exciting) smartphone concept, these omissions seem to me to be problematic for Canonical. Even the mighty Microsoft has struggled to break the Android stranglehold on the mobile phone market and the Ubuntu OS will have to compete with Google, Microsoft, & Apple for market share: the minimum requirement for market entry is to match (if not, surpass) the current offer and, if Canonical is not hasty, by the time the Ubuntu phone catches up with the market, it's competitors will have moved on.

Of course, existing operating systems are not the only concern for Canonical in an all ready crowded market: in January, Samsung released the Z1 running its Tizen operating system: the significance of this event should not be underestimated, in 2013, Samsung was by far the largest producer of handsets in the world (although the iPhone (all variants) was the largest selling handset (same link)).

But, even if you are desperate to own the new Aquaris E4.5 (not a terribly catchy name), you can't just wander down to your local mobile provider and pick up your new handset: you have to wait for a flash sale to pick up your new toy, so Ubuntu's entry into the mobile arena is limited to say the least.

Ultimately, only time will tell if Canonical has got this right or missed its opportunity. However, the €170 price tag is undoubtedly attractive and it may be that the phone will find a niche. I for one hope that this venture is successful for Canonical and the Ubuntu operating system continues to find new fans.

Sources & References:

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