In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Canonical’s CEO Mark Shuttleworth has said the first smartphones running its recently announced mobile operating system will be out before the end of the year. Ubuntu for Mobile had previously been expected in early 2014, however Shuttleworth has revised this previous goal to early October 2013.
While this is good news for anyone looking forward to the new operating system, it’s not clear where these smartphones will go on sale. Committing only to availability in, “Two large geographic markets,” Shuttleworth didn’t mention anywhere in particular; but he did describe North America as. “Key” for Ubuntu. The trouble is, along with Europe, it’s also going to be the hardest to infiltrate. Realistically, Canonical will find it easier to gain market share with Ubuntu for Mobile in places where smartphones are only just beginning to take hold, such as China, Asia, South America and India.
So how has Canonical managed to slice several months off the release date for its mobile OS? One of the reasons may be because there’s not going to be an application store available at launch. In an interview with Engadget recently, Canonical’s head of mobile said, “In terms of our first go-to-market product strategy, the intention is not to have an application store full of ready-made applications.” He added that the framework would be there, but its target market would be prepared to wait; another hint of where Ubuntu for Mobile will make its debut.
Canonical will probably show off the new mobile operating system at Mobile World Congress at the end of the month, where the delayed test image for the Galaxy Nexus could also be released. This sets the stage for a showdown between it and fellow newcomer to the scene, Firefox OS, as Mozilla and ZTE may launch the first retail-ready hardware at the show.