SAN JOSE, Calif. – Canonical Ltd. is working on versions of its Ubuntu version of Linux for smartphones, tablets and intelligent embedded devices. The company announced its plans at its annual develop conference this week.
Canonical's chief executive Mark Shuttleworth said the company will "bring Ubuntu to all the personal computing form factors, on phones, tablets, and smart-screens," according to a report in PC World.
Shuttleworth confirmed the plans in a blog posted this morning. He said Ubuntu version 14.04 "will power
tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and
it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server
and the cloud."
Mobile versions of Ubuntu will run
on Intel, AMD and ARM processors, he said. It will support multi-touch interfaces
and displays of various sizes, he added.
Nearly a dozen sections in one track at the Ubuntu developers conference focus on Android, The Linaro group working on low-level mobile Linux code, mainly in Android, has a developer conference co-located with the Ubuntu event in Orlando this week.
To date Ubuntu has mainly focused on x86 servers, however it is also available in a version for desktops and more recently netbooks. Canonical's controversial Unity interface is said to be a key piece of the company's move into mobile devices.
"Seventy percent of people in
Egypt access the Internet solely via the phone--even in the U.S. that figure is
a startling 25 percent," Shuttleworh said in his blog.
The company comes late to a crowded field. Google's Android currently dominates sales of smartphones. Apple commands the largest share of smartphones by any single company with its iOS and dominates the nascent market for tablets. Microsoft is playing catch up in mobile with a version of Windows 8 for tablets shown at its Build conference and recently announced Windows Phone handsets from Nokia.
Some mobile systems developers expressed concerns about the patent wars surrounding Android and Google's bid to acquire systems maker Motorola Mobility, largely for its patent portfolio. If the patent wars sour enthusiasm for Android, OEMs could see Ubuntu as an alternative platform.
Canonical will have to show how it can developing a base of support for mobile systems and applications, perhaps by porting existing code and programs from Android or other mobile Linux variants.
Intel is also playing catchup in this space. It recently ended support for MeeGo, its mobile Linux variant originally co-developed with Nokia. It is now working on Tizen, a new platform co-developed with Samsung and others supporting HTML5. Days before MeeGo was canceled, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said there is still hunger for an open mobile Linux platform beyond Android.