The First Ubuntu Smartphones Will Debut In October

Ubuntu’s recently announced mobile operating system certainly has some panache, which has prompted more than a few nerds (myself included) to become enamored with it. Thankfully, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth has just recently given us a clearer idea of when to expect it — he told the Wall Street Journal that the first Ubuntu-powered smartphone would see the light of day this October.

That is, of course, if everything pans out the way that the Ubuntu team hopes. It’s not unheard of for mobile platform launches to miss their intended launch windows after all — BlackBerry 10 was famously slated for a 2012 launch before being delayed until last week.

Sad to say, the rest of Shuttleworth’s chat with the Journal wasn’t nearly as revealing. Though we’ve seen the nascent mobile OS running on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus both in the initial announcement video as well as at CES, Shuttleworth declined to offer names of any confirmed or potential hardware manufacturers Canonical may be working with. Even so, Canonical’s fondness of the one-time flagship device doesn’t end there. Developers will be able to tinker with Ubuntu on the Galaxy Nexus starting sometime this month (though the fact that it was originally supposed to be released last month may not bode well for Canonical’s launch window).

Shuttleworth also mentioned that the mobile OS would make its official debut in two major markets this fall, but you guessed it — there’s no hard word on which markets he’s actually talking about. But he did concede that North America is a “key market” for Ubuntu. That said, Canonical may do well by tackling some less-developed markets right out of the gate.

Canonical’s Jane Silber noted that when Ubuntu for phones was first revealed that the appeal of Ubuntu phones extends far beyond the enterprise, adding that Ubuntu’s native apps and stylish UI could make it a popular choice for more basic smartphones. Some of the other upstart players are looking to expand the reach of their mobile operating systems by taking a similar tack. Carriers like Telefonica are planning to use Mozilla’s Firefox OS as a means of getting more low-cost, feature-rich devices into the hands of consumers in markets like Brazil. Attempting to make a splash where mobile OS allegiances have not quite had a chance to settle yet could give Canonical an edge, as those regions become more digitally developed.