Ubuntu for phones is a new unreleased phone operating system based on the wildly popular Linux flavour Ubuntu. It's free and truly open. Judging by the video below it is really well thought out. It takes everything that's good from all existing platforms, improves on it and delivers it with style. Here are the questions in my head regarding the subject:
- Is it too late to the game? Android came late compared to iOS, yet it was able to generate lots of excitement and gain considerable market share. Windows Phone was even later to it and it seems the uptake is probably well below Microsoft's expectations. Blackberry 10 is coming within a few weeks. Is there room for a firth player? I believe so. The market is huge and growing rapidly. Even Ubuntu for Phones can only capture a few percents of the market we're still looking at tens of millions of users. Ubuntu for phone will probably be bigger than Ubuntu for desktop.
- Will it have my favorite apps? The problem with Windows Phone is that it doesn't have apps and developers aren't willing to spend time on this new platform. Even giants like Google publicly announced that they are not developing for Windows Phone until it's so small in market share. However the community of Ubuntu is quite different from Windows developers. However it's almost certain that some developers will not spend resources to release their popular apps for Ubuntu. Even with Android having a huge marketshare many developers opt for releasing for iOS only or for iOS first and much later for Android. Question is will it matter if you don't have Instagram for your Ubuntu phone.
- What about content? One of the biggest benefits of the iOS platform is the iTunes Store. Even Google is struggling to grow the Play Store to a comparable level. Will Ubuntu have a fighting chance? I think not. This is going to be the biggest issue for Ubuntu for Phones in the USA. But in other markets people buy much less music and video content, so it's possible this is not going to a problem for Ubuntu for Phones.
- Will hardware manufacturers come on board? This is another tough one. Big ones like Samsung will not care what platform their phones are running on as long as they are selling the devices. Samsung released a Windows Phone along with their Androids handsets and I bet they would release iOS versions too if it was open to them. But it's questionable if smaller manufacturers will risk spending time and resources releasing a Ubuntu version of their devices. If the promise of video is correct, all Android devices will run Ubuntu for Phones, so this may not be a problem after all. We'll just have to see how well it runs on them.
In general I'm very optimistic about this development. It seems we're not going to have a monopoly or even an duopoly of platforms in mobile computing. We will see many business models and strategies competing against each other. This is great for us consumers and we should support all small players coming into the market.