Will Ubuntu make it to smartphones and tablets?
Earlier this week, Ubuntu's Netbook Remix edition was cut, and the distro shaved down to two editions for PCs and servers. But Canonical keeps talking about building and pushing the OS into the cloud. But without a mobile version, how far will Ubuntu really go in the cloud?
The future of mobile computing is directly tied to the cloud. We access e-mail, access maps, run apps in the cloud via smartphones and tablets. Ubuntu offers the revamped Ubuntu One to access music, and store, sync and save data. A premium service is offered for a fee, and users with mobile devices are more likely to access that service.
So, Canoical needs a mobile Ubuntu version to build out the cloud infrastructure. PC and servers could use the cloud but to a certain extent, but they have local computing resources they can rely on. For every Android and iOS, shutting Ubuntu out will only take it away from the cloud.
A mobile Ubuntu version will also augment the importance of the Ubuntu desktop and server distributions. Every top company has a unified OS strategy to put PCs and mobile devices on the same page. Think HP with WebOS, Apple with iOS, and Microsoft with Windows 8. Ubuntu needs to extend its reach.
Ubuntu also has goodwill on its side. People love the OS, and really want to see it on smartphones and tablets. They need to act soon. Canonical has been hot and cold about Ubuntu tablet OS plans. Certain customized builds have reached tablets like Kno, but Canonical hasn't made a concerted effort to build a tablet OS.
Perhaps Canonical has a new distro under development, the cancellation of Netbook Remix could change those plans. But as we know, Ubuntu development is open-source, and there's usually common knowledge about its efforts.
There certainly was a handset version for Ubuntu that was cancelled years ago. But now smartphones are at the center of computing, and Ubuntu needs to reconsider its effort and play in the arena to save its OS.
Or maybe Ubuntu is doing the right thing -- their adventure into the netbook market didn't pay much dividends. Tablets may meet the same fate as netbooks, but smartphones will always remain a big fish worth catching.
Hopefully we'll see the company atleast address the idea of Ubuntu for smartphone. An Ubuntu app will soon reach Android smartphones and tablets to sync music and bookmarks with the Ubuntu One, but that's not enough. A new OS needs to developed from scratch.