Feeds

Dying for an Ubuntu Linux phone? Here's how much it'll cost you

Canonical supremo Mark Shuttleworth spills beans on mobe price tags

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Just because Ubuntu Mobile is based on Linux doesn't mean Ubuntu handsets will be really cheap, like phones running some other open-source mobile operating systems.

Speaking at the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany on Tuesday, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said we should expect the first Ubuntu phones to be "mid-high end" devices, with price tags in the $200 to $400 (£120 to £240) range.

That's a much different approach than the one taken by Mozilla, which has been targeting emerging markets with open source Firefox OS phones that it hopes will soon cost as little as $25.

"We're going for the high end because we want people who are looking for a very sharp, beautiful experience," Shuttleworth said, "and because our ambition is to be selling the future PC – the future personal computing engine, essentially – and to support our partners in doing that."

Canonical's partners so far include Chinese smartphone upstart Meizu and Spanish e-reader and tablet maker BQ, which Shuttleworth announced as the first companies to commit to Ubuntu devices at the Mobile World Congress conference in February.

At CeBIT, Shuttleworth described Meizu as a "sharp-elbows, guerilla operator" and said BQ understands how to "put the right device into the right hands."

Both companies currently market bog-standard midlevel Android phones, which may give some hint of what their eventual Ubuntu devices will look like. Yet to hear Shuttleworth tell it, Canonical is aiming to build devices with which users will have an "emotional connection" – something he says only Apple has managed to do so far.

Photo of Mark Shuttleworth at CeBIT 2014

Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth thinks an Ubuntu phone could also be your PC and your TV, too

That's not to say Ubuntu Mobile will be a clone of iOS. According to Shuttleworth, one key audience Canonical is targeting is "people who don't really want to be that fussed about their phone," but who want to do basic things in a simple way.

Ubuntu's other audience, however, is developers. During his brief CeBIT keynote, Shuttleworth once again gave his pitch for mobile devices that can act as a single "brain" for multiple device form factors, so that a phone could alternately act like a tablet, a PC, or a TV, depending which peripherals you connect to it. Ubuntu, he said, would allow developers to target all of these form factors and even push their software into the cloud.

"There's not much point in doing something just like what other people have done," Shuttleworth said. "That's not interesting. There's usually a market for an also-ran, but we're about the third or fourth company to come out with a phone. What's interesting for me about what we're doing is this convergence story, because it's profoundly new."

Support for the convergence idea has been tepid at best, so far. By Shuttleworth's own admission, his Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a prototype converged device called the Ubuntu Edge was a "spectacular failure." Yet at CeBIT he said multiple manufacturers had expressed interest in the concept, suggesting that maybe its time has simply not yet come.

"I think, at some level, everybody knows that platforms serve a purpose, and then that purpose is served in a better way by something else," Shuttleworth said. "And Android has really served its purpose, for sure, but perhaps – just perhaps – it's time for something new." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.