Linux-based Ubuntu comes to the phone

The London and Isle of Man headquartered company that oversees commercially supported services for the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system has confirmed that a smartphone interface has been produced that will offer PC capability when docked.

The new ‘mobile Ubuntu’ will use all four edges of the screen in terms of user ‘swipes’ and ‘touch’ for what Canonical claims will be the most “immersive experience” possible.

Forget smartphone, enter the ‘superphone’

Given the positioning that Nokia is pushing for so hard for in the ‘enterprise smartphone’ space with its Lumia line running Windows Phone 8 (and Google with the Nexus products), this open source alternative is then positioned as an opportunity to converge phone, PC and thin client into a single enterprise ‘superphone’.

NOTE: Whether Canonical is actively trying to encourage the coining of the term superphone as a portmanteau of ‘supermodel’ and ‘smartphone’ was not confirmed.

CEO of Canonical Jane Silber suggests that there is now an opportunity for the company to target ‘basic smartphones’ that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email — (and, presumably bring these phones from basic to super status).

Ubuntu on mobile outperforms [basic smartphones] thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation, claims Silber.

Canonical’s official press statement on the launch last night confirmed that this iteration of Ubuntu is aimed at two core mobile segments:

a. the high-end superphone and,

b. the entry-level basic smartphone

The firm’s publicity engine then kicked into fifth gear and detailed the hope that Ubuntu will also appeal to “aspirational prosumers” who want a what the firm calls a “lower bill-of-materials” device.

Impressive, but not smart (or super)

Principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe Chris Green says that it is an “impressive move” but ultimately not a smart one.

Quoted on the BBC news website Green says, “[Canonical is] not the first company to try and drop a desktop operating system on a mobile device and nobody has ever been able to make it work. Microsoft tried to foist something that looked and felt like normal Windows on a mobile phone and they had to screw it up and develop a separate phone system.”

Green continued, “If you look at the platforms that thrive at the moment it’s the ones that have diverged and had a platform designed for mobile on their mobile devices and a platform designed for conventional PCs on those.”

Despite his critics, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth insisted on his blog last week that 2013 will be all about mobile.

“Broadening the Ubuntu community to include mobile developers who need new tools and frameworks to create mobile software. Defining new form factors that enable new kinds of work and play altogether. Bringing clearly into focus the driving forces that have shaped our new desktop into one facet of a bigger gem,” said Shuttleworth.