Coming Ubuntu Mobile Phone Revolution – Really?

Last night I attended the Austin Professional Android Developer Meetup at the Capital Factory where @whurley, General Manager at Chaotic Moon Labs spoke on the new Ubuntu Mobile OS technology and its possible impact on the smartphone market. The event was sponsored by tapfire mobile who provided a nice selection of beer.

Picture by Daniel M. Armendariz posted

The meeting was well attended with about 75 people who engaged with whurley in a 75 minute discussion on the history of phone OS, current status, and future impact of the new Ubuntu mobile OS. Here are some highlights of the discussion in bullet form to simplify your reading experience:

  • Android was a free and open response to the close Apple Phone OS allowing an explosion in competition
  • Android “by Google”
    • Good – Google made lots of money and hired exceptional people to work on the OS
    • Bad – Market fragmentation has made it difficult for developers to create a single application to work on various flavors and manufacturer devices; Android is not really open source
  • Analyst market numbers on smart phone market are ABSURDELY high and do not reflect the true situation in the market
  • Existing market reality (leaders are locked into these markets)
    • US and Japan – Apple strongest
    • Europe and Asia – Google strongest
    • UK – Windows making strong move
  • True smart phone market is Apple iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy III
  • Mobile gaming is the true moneymaker in the application space for mobile
  • Ubuntu Mobile OS
    • Not be truly ready for developers until 2014
    • Little to no traction at all in the existing marketplace
    • Developers are open to create a unique and small ecosystem in a true open source manner
    • Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical which makes Ubuntu has good vision and “wants to do what Apple/Microsoft/Google have already done”
  • Mozilla has also announced a Firefox Mobile OS but that was not discussed in any detail
  • 2014 Predictions
    • Apple begin its decline as market leader
    • Google – deliver a unified Android version for phone manufacturers
    • Windows 8 will stall in market
    • Ubuntu – attempt to disrupt the market by playing Google against existing phone manufacturers and carriers
      • Perhaps Ubuntu offers carriers more $$ in the application ecosystem
  • Fairphone – Interesting project to create a global phone based on social values

So, these are the notes I took last night and I came away with the impression that whurley felt strongly that Ubuntu would make a significant difference in the market and has a real chance to disrupt what looks like a settled market. I am still not sure as I see his points but taking on Google, Apple and even Microsoft at once seems a big stretch for any company. What are your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Coming Ubuntu Mobile Phone Revolution – Really?

  1. @jdrch I think Ubuntu has a better sense of how to properly create versions of a product over time based on their history while Google was new to the product release cycle game. However, this could be an issue and I will let some of the Android folks who read this provide their thoughts. I know they are lurking about….

  2. +Ubuntu won’t make any progress unless they do with phones what they haven’t been able to do with their OS, get it on the shelves. If they can’t get carriers to carry their phones they won’t sell a single one.

    • @Michael that was part of the talk last night and whurley thinks that is something they can do as an offset against Google. As with all things we shall see. Of course, I am still waiting for the Ubuntu Gurus I know to provide more info on this post.

    • T-mobile came up during the discussion as a carrier who embraces sale of unsubsidized phones. If Ubuntu can get decently performing handsets built at a consumer price, T-mobile may be interested to provide service. This would ensure community support and regular OS updates. Right now, this is the only way I see an open-source phone being sold.

  3. This really was a great discussion for developers. We need to watch for new market players and look for trends in the development of platform ecosystems. Whurley talked about the current world as Apple, Google/Samsung with Motorola question, and Microsoft. Shuttleworth is proposing a 4th where the user experience is Ubuntu on all screens, and the screens may all be peripherals for the phone as CPU. This would fit with the values I see in the Linux community of sharing/DIY/lower cost devices.

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