Ubuntu Smartphones Set For Launch This Fall, As Early As October

By Alexandra Burlacu email: a.burlacu@mobilenapps.com | Feb 07, 2013 12:19 PM EST

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The first smartphones based on Ubuntu's open-source operating system will launch as early as October this year, said Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth's announcement comes just over a month after Canonical unveiled its new Ubuntu phone OS. Phones running Ubuntu were initially expected in 2014, but it seems the handsets will hit the market sooner than expected.

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Shuttleworth revealed the new launch timeframe during an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), but did not offer any additional details regarding hardware manufacturers. When Canonical showed off the OS at the International CES back in January, it used a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It remains unclear for now exactly which smartphones will run Ubuntu.

While the Canonical founder declined to name any confirmed or potential hardware manufacturers, the company seems very fond of the Galaxy Nexus. Developers will be able to play with Ubuntu on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus starting sometime this month, and the OS is expected to support Android smartphone chipsets at first.

Shuttleworth also noted that the new mobile OS would officially launch in two major markets this fall, but did not say which ones. He did, however, acknowledge that North America is a "key market" for Ubuntu.

Ubuntu has long been the favorite open-source platform for computing, but Canonical's Jane Silber noted that Ubuntu phones could appeal well beyond just enterprise. According to Silber, the OS' native apps and stylish user interface (UI) could make it a popular choice for more basic smartphones as well.

As CNET points out, the Ubuntu OS will use the same drivers and kernels as Android smartphones, and it will also be able to run on entry-level handsets to prove its worth on a smaller screen.

As a mobile OS, Ubuntu will use native apps, which means that developers will not need to create separate apps for mobile and desktop, blurring the line across devices. This means users will be able to easily switch between devices running on Ubuntu. Moreover, the OS also supports swiping gestures as recently shown on the new BlackBerry 10.

Several carriers are reportedly interested in the smartphone, but it remains unclear for now which potential partners will win Canonical's approval. 

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