If I said once, I’ll say it again: things are about to get heated up on the OS battlefield by 2014 – there’ll be a new player on the block by then. Ubuntu Touch will transfer in that before mentioned year from an after-market OS to an out-of-the-box OS. Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth has recently announced that they’ve gotten a hardware partner on board ( but they refused to tell who exactly ), and they hinted that their OS will be found on more than a few high-end devices by the end of 2014.
Ubuntu Touch tried to make an earlier appearance on the OS battlefield earlier this year with their Ubuntu Edge phone. That was a device with some great tech specs that promised a lot, however, that experiment failed. It did, however, attract a ton of attention from larger manufacturers, so at the very least it got that going for it. Some of you might not be familiar with the Ubuntu Edge attempt, so allow me to explain a bit.
The principles behind the Ubuntu Edge were good, but they failed with one small aspect: too large of a proposed budget in such a small time ( 32 million dollars in 1 month on IndieGoGo or some similar crowd-kick-start project ). The money demanded for the phone was adequate, especially considering some of the specifications on it were unheard of up until now on the phone market ( 128 GB of internal storage and MicroSD card slot, 4 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear-camera and 2 MP front-camera and a lot of features found on many of the top-ranking smartphones now ). Also, it was to be the first phone ever to Dual-Boot both Android and Ubuntu Touch out of the box. They did manage to raise part of the money ( 12.8 million out of 32, which granted them the record for the most funded crowd-kick-start campaign ever ), but in the end the goal was too high and thus became unattainable in a mere month.
Now, back to this recent announcement. While the hardware maker is yet unknown, we can expect the phone to be availble on quite a large scale, as some of the carriers with which Canonical has deals with include: Vodafone, Verizon, Deutsche Telecom, T-Mobile, 3, EE, KT, SK, Telecom and PT.
Up until now, Ubuntu Touch has been running on a hefty list of devices, but a skillful user is required to install this OS on those phones. Canonical will thus try to steal a market share by releasing a phone which can run Ubuntu Touch out-of-the-box. The OS offers a few interesting thing ( one can even go as far as to say it gives you the best of both worlds ): it supports Linux apps, it can run Java-based apps ( same as Android ), and it can even run web-based apps ( same as the Firefox OS ).
One of the main advantages of Canonical here ( speaking off-the-record, of course ), is that it’s not a Google OS. The reason WHY I’m saying this isn’t out of spite, but you have to admit that one of the main advantages of Android ( at least that’s how it was when it came out ) was that it had almost everything about it open-source. Nowadays they’re getting more and more closed-sourced with both apps and other services too. Many of its default apps are getting closed-sourced versions on the Play Store, and that means that Google is using it to push users to its money-making services ( also, keep in mind that Android is still free ). Ubuntu, on the other hand, vouches to be open and promises to bring services from the likes of LinkedIn, Baidu, Facebook, Evernote and Pinterest to the forefront as more than just shortcuts on a desktop.
Next year is looking to be a promising year. A lot of new players are promising to join the board: Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Tizen ( although I have my doubts about this one – it may end up being just vaporware ). They all promise to be open-source, they all bring brand new UIs and a ton of promises – but it remains to be seen which one will end up delivering and making good on those promises.