Feature Article

January 16, 2014

Ubuntu for Smartphones Won't Launch this Year, Ubuntu Edge Never Coming

The saga of the Ubuntu smartphone, it seems, continues. More to the point, the saga of any Ubuntu smartphone won’t properly begin until next year, according to Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon. Indeed, in a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, Bacon stated that he “would be surprised” if a phone running Canonical’s Linux distro appeared before 2015.

Again, though, this is starting to become a familiar pattern for Canonical’s attempt at entering the mobile market, so it’s almost not surprising to hear of another delay. Unfortunately, Bacon also dropped some much worse news: The ambitious Ubuntu Edge smartphone will not go into production.

The world first got wind of Ubuntu for smartphones roughly a year ago. At the time, Canonical CEO Jane Silber expected big things for a mobile Ubuntu release, mostly for its potential in the enterprise market. When the OS finally appeared on a device, it was on the Nexus 4. This made sense as Ubuntu for smartphones was and is built to work with Android kernels and drivers, meaning pretty much any Android device could potentially install Ubuntu as well.

Later in the year — July, to be exact — Canonical doubled down on this idea by revealing the Ubuntu Edge, a premium smartphone that could dual-boot into the Ubuntu phone OS as well as Android. The company also took the opportunity to introduce its new desktop convergence feature which would allow the Ubuntu Edge to essentially become a fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC.

Unfortunately, in order to be released, the Edge would need to raise $32 million through crowd funding site Indiegogo — an endeavour that proved too ambitious as Canonical fell short of its funding goal. As such, it isn’t much of a surprise that the Edge isn’t being made, but likely comes as a disappointment for fans.

At the very least, we now have a better idea of how the future of Ubuntu for smartphones will play out.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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