Well… kind of. It would probably be more accurate to say that it was proposed for development and production, contingent on funding. But I’ll get to that.
The company making the announcement is Canonical, which is the firm behind the Ubuntu variant of Linux. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution, and is widely considered the version of Linux that is the most user-friendly (for those of us who don’t know our way around a command line) and the strongest competitor to Windows and OS X.
Back at the beginning of this year, Canonical announced that they were working on a version of Ubuntu for phones. Today we saw that what they are working on is more than another smartphone competitor, but rather a full version of their desktop OS that is optimized to be used on a one-handed touch screen device. This way, when you plug the phone into a desktop setup with a keyboard and mouse you get the full desktop experience. Sounds like they were reading this blog yesterday! (I’m kidding, of course). Check out this video where they explain it:
In addition to the software, they also announced a phone. Except there is no phone, not yet, just renders and mockups. However, what they did launch today is their crowd funding of the development and production of the phone.
It is the most ambitious crowd funding project in history. Using IndieGoGo (a competitor to Kickstarter), they are trying to raise $32 million dollars (yes, $32,000,000) in only 31 days. That’s $1.03 million a day! If this happens, it will be the largest amount ever raised by crowd funding. If it doesn’t, and I have doubts that it will, the phone will not be made.
The phone itself is promised to be cutting edge, using whatever the latest specs will be when it is delivered to backers in May of 2014. Additionally, in order to make it more practical as a phone and a computer, they will give it 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Here’s a video explaining the phone in greater detail:
Whether this phone is funded or not, Ubuntu as an OS for phones is promised to live on, eventually making it’s way onto commercially available handsets sometime in mid-to-late 2014.
Looking ahead, in order for the Ubuntu phone and mobile OS to be successful, it will need to succeed at the four points I discussed yesterday: 1) Performance 2) Useful Software 3) A tailored but consistent interface 4) Good accessories.
Performance, accessories, and software will all have to be evaluated once the phone and software is ready to go. However, the fact that it will have the ability to run Android should help greatly increase the software that will be available. As far as the interface goes, I think that it looks very promising. That said, I still want to see how some of the desktop programs will look and work when used on the phone.
It’s going to be a while before Ubuntu phones make it to market — if everything goes according to schedule it will be almost a year before they become available — which gives the competition a chance to get involved.
Yesterday, I suggested that Microsoft may be the ideal company to create a phone that serves as a primary computer, and I still believe that. Maybe, in one of their labs somewhere, Microsoft is working on just such a device.
But, even if they aren’t, it’s good to know that someone is trying to make this type of device happen.
P.S. As of the time I’m writing this, the funding is more than on track, having raised over 3.1 million so far in the first day. However, I expect this to trail off as the press coverage from the announcement runs its course. We shall have to see.