Ubuntu will sell pre-loaded on smartphone hardware, despite the failure last year of the incredibly ambitious Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign. The company detailed plans today (via TheNextWeb) to ship Ubuntu-based smartphones later this year, via hardware partners including Spain’s bq and China’s Meizu.
Ubuntu isn’t talking specifics yet, so don’t expect specs, but the company did reveal in a statement that initial devices will focus on “mid to high-end hardware,” so these won’t be the budget devices you might expect from an upstart mobile OS looking to compete in a crowded smartphone market. Given that the software maker originally wanted to launch the ultra premium Edge for an ultra premium price ($600 for ‘early’ backers), not immediately going after the entry-level market makes a lot of sense.
Calling Ubuntu’s efforts to crack the mobile market an uphill battle would be an understatement: Existing examples of latecomers who’ve tried to make a dent don’t inspire much confidence, with Firefox OS being the most noteworthy example that comes to mind. Mozilla’s project did focus on entry-level devices, however, which could provide another clue as to why Canonical won’t start off with that strategy.
Canonical’s differentiation strategy is to make content and services the central focus of the UI, rather than hiding them in siloed apps that each serve a different purpose. Still, Canonical hopes to have the top 50 apps available at launch, including Evernote, Grooveshark and Weather Channel to start. The company is also working with a Carrier Advisory Group formed out of the Edge campaign, which includes Vodafone, EE, T-Mobile, Verizon, Deutsche Telecom and many more.