Jan 04, 2013

Who would build an Ubuntu smartphone?

I think the possibility of an Ubuntu smartphone is interesting, although I don't know if I'm quite ready to move to a different OS at this point. But one thing that I've been asking myself is what company would build it. Motorola, Apple and RIM are out of the question. Nokia has enough problems and had jumped on the Windows train. Samsung is going to release it own OS. LG is pretty firmly entrenched as an Android manufacturer, especially since they just released the new Nexus 4. Aside from all the challenges inherent in trying to unseat iOS and Android from the smartphone throne, how is Canonical going to actually get these things build?


Probably not the manufacturers you mentioned and I don't think HTC would roll the dice either, but don't forget about the Chinese companies that make smartphones. They have improved dramatically over the past year or so, and I'm sure Huawei or perhaps one of the Chinese contract manufacturing companies like Shenzhen Kakatech or Superdigital Technology would be a possibility. There are also less well known manufacturers like Pantech or Alcatel that might be willing to do so as well. Still, like everyone else, I have doubt that an Ubuntu smartphone can achieve significant market penetration. Even if there was no Android and iOS, I think trying to compete in the consumer market with Microsoft and Samsung Tizen would be a significant challenge. 


I agree with Jim Lynch that it's a tall order for yet another OS to crack the mobile market. I don't see how even Samsung will have much success. It would seem to me that the only potential manufacturers for an Ubuntu phone are either new entrants or desperate current players. I never thought Nokia's partnership with Microsoft would end well, so I don't totally rule out the Finnish device maker finding another OS once it realizes the mistake it made partnering with a company that doesn't have as much at stake in the mobile market as it does. And if BlackBerry 10 fails (which I think we can pretty much count on), RIM might not have many other options. Generally I like to see at least three healthy companies in any major market because it's better for consumers and innovation. So I hope somebody steps up.

I have no idea. It seems odd to have yet another mobile platform for phones. iOS and Android have sooooo many users already, and Microsoft is lurking around the corner trying to get some market share. I don't think Ubuntu really has much of a chance, though I hope I'm wrong. I'd rather see Ubuntu take off than Windows Phone 8.
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