Five things you should know about Ubuntu Phone

My first post of 2013 is about mobile? Didn’t see that one coming…

Screen shot 2013-01-02 at 23.23.46

Ubuntu, from Canonical (an operating system I have never used (not an irrelevant point)), is coming to mobile. Haven’t you heard? OK, well watch the video embedded below (from about 5mins 20secs onwards) to get a brief rundown.

In fact, if you’ve got 20mins (like I had earlier, in the bath (there’s a mental image for you)), you should watch it all – it’s pretty good.

Got that? Right.

Five things you should know –

1. I am not an Ubuntu user
I’ll say it again: I am not an Ubuntu user. Not many of my friends are either. According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is ‘the most popular Linux distribution on the market’. That’s a little bit like saying you’re the most popular kid in New Jersey but hey, who’s counting.

My point is (based on the super-scientific research of me and my mates – clearly) Ubuntu isn’t exactly consumer friendly and/or focused (yet). This might work against them, it might work for them. But we’ll come back to that one.

2. Oh my N9
The Nokia N9 was (still is, to be fair) a gorgeous phone. I still have mine. At the time, Meego’s SWIPE UI was innovative as hell and just so damn good to use. New Ubuntu for mobile has clearly borrowed heavily from Meego in this area.

Swipe left to do this, swipe right to do that; it’s a great interface. And, while I’m happy to see it being used, it makes me sad when I think about what the N9 might’ve been [had Nokia not decided to go all in with Windows Phone].

3. Disingenuous(?) Commentary
The super smart chaps spotted chatting in the video from 14mins onwards make some really interesting and valid points. But – and you may think this yourself when you watch it – the comments are bit generic and fluffy. But that’s not their fault, it was down to the questions asked and the edits made afterwards –



4. We’ve been here before, remember?
Back in November 2007 (a mere five years ago) Google (re-)launched Android into the world. ‘It’s an operating system for geeks!’ the nay-sayers yelled. And they were right, for a time. One might argue that is still very much the case BUT ONE WOULD DEFINITELY BE WRONG.

Android is the number one mobile OS in the world today. Five years after the industry signed it off as ‘just for geeks’. Alright Ubuntu isn’t Google but still, don’t discount them yet – sometimes being the underdog really helps. Speaking of Google…

5. Hardware vs Software
According to sources, a build of Ubuntu for mobile will be ready for download and installation onto Google Nexus devices within the next three weeks. If you made it through the video above, then you probably already know that ‘if your hardware works with Android, then it’ll also work with Ubuntu’ – which is basically Ubuntu saying ‘We work on Google phones!’.

That to me is awesome.

That means we are one more step closer to separating hardware and software in mobile. That means, like in the PC world, you could buy a Google Nexus device and then ostensibly install any OS you want on it [within reason]. This level of disruption can only be good for the market.

In closing:

Consumers don’t care for (or even know about) Ubuntu, but consumers didn’t care about Android when that first launched and look where we are now. The OS itself looks innovative and exciting, the market is screaming out for disruption (Windows Phone isn’t quite there yet), and perhaps, just perhaps, Ubuntu for mobile might be an(other) interesting way forward.



Comments are welcome, but there’s already an interesting discussion already happening over on G+ that may be worth your attention as well.



Last updated by at .

Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

One thought on “Five things you should know about Ubuntu Phone”

  1. I’m looking forward to giving this a whirl on my GNex in a couple of weeks! 🙂

    Like you, I’ve never actually used Ubuntu, but have always been kinda intrigued by it… I wonder whether the mobile OS might become the hook that starts attracting new users to adopt the Ubuntu desktop platform as well.

Comments are closed.