Today, Canonical—the maker of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system—announced two companies that will soon be making phones based on its Ubuntu Touch mobile OS. Spain’s second biggest smartphone maker bq and China’s Meizu will be creating the phones aimed at the “mid to high end,” and are looking to release them later this year, according to a press release announcing the partnership.
The specs of the phones themselves are something of a mystery, but chances are good that the devices will offer a blend of powerful hardware along with a competitive price point. The phones will be sold online from bq, Meizu, and Canonical, though it’s likely that wireless carriers around the world may take the plunge as well in an effort to reduce its dependence and deference to Google’s ubiquitous Android OS and Apple’s expensive iOS devices. The press release names several carriers the world over—including Verizon and T-Mobile in the US—that have expressed Canonical’s efforts to bring Ubuntu Touch to the masses.
A third alternative that’s able to capture users’ interests more than Microsoft’s failed efforts with Windows Phone would be a great way to stimulate more competitive pricing from Google and Apple. And the fact that Ubuntu Touch and Android are both built on Linux means that Canonical’s OS may easily offer up access to Android’s huge library of apps.
In fact, that was part of the plan for the Ubuntu Edge, Canonical’s homegrown smartphone. Last year, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring the Ubuntu Edge to life. While the campaign fell well short of its $32 million goal, the Edge was an impressive device that would’ve offered users the ability to dual boot into Ubuntu Touch and Android OS, and would’ve acted as a small, Chromebook-style desktop PC when connected to a monitor.
I still suspect that Canonical may bring the Edge out sometime in 2014, perhaps buoyed by the successes of bq and Meizu’s Ubuntu Touch smartphones. Let’s hope that we get the chance to see these handsets and their specs before too long.