Ubuntu Linux enters the smartphone brawl - major industry changes on the way?

The mobile industry is the place to be right now, with heavy growth in almost every part of the world. Sales growth of PCs has slowed to a crawl recently, and pundits are already heralding the end of the PC age, and the dominance of mobile. The mobile market is mostly dominated by the Android and iOS operating systems, supported by Google and Apple, respectively. Microsoft has made inroads with its heavy financial backing of the Windows Phone OS, as well as its partnership with Nokia, yet still has a relatively small market share overall. Just when the mobile playing field seemed set, another big competitor (or two) will certainly be on the way soon.

CRN.com, in addition to several other news outlets, are reporting that an Ubuntu smartphone, backed by the software company Canonical Ltd., will make an appearance in late 2013 or early 2014. According to the CRN article:

The Ubuntu for smartphones uses the same drivers as Android smartphones and is compatible with a typical "Android board support package." The software development kit is available now, and a full image of the software, offered as a replacement for Android on Google's Nexus 3 tablet, will be available shortly.

Ubuntu has made a custom OS for Android phones for a while now, so that part is not a huge surprise. The big surprise comes in this comment by the Ubuntu founder and products vice president:

Shuttleworth said Canonical has been in talks with a smartphone manufacturer, which he described as a "household name," about the possibility of adding Ubuntu to its handset. But he declined to name the vendor and said it would be late 2013 or early 2014 before that happens.

Ubuntu teaming up with a manufacturer to bundle their software with new phones would certainly shake up the industry, and represents a big step forward for Ubuntu. Ubuntu's website has some more information about the smartphone; the OS is shown on a generic smartphone model, so OEMs are obviously not set in stone yet. But the features of the OS are certainly showcased, and the ability of the new phones to "dock to become full PCs and thin clients – enabling enterprise IT departments to replace phones, thin clients and laptops with a single secure corporate device" would certainly make a splash. Google, Apple, and Microsoft are still maintaining some degree of separation between their desktop and mobile platforms, making this a new innovation in a fast changing industry.

If that wasn't enough to be excited about, the rumor mill is spinning at full speed over Amazon's Kindle smartphone, which is allegedly already in production. 2013 should certainly be an interesting year for the mobile industry, as everyone rushes to throw their chips in the pile while they still can.

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