Ubuntu TV unveiled

Open-source OS to power internet-enabled televisions - see the first screenshots here

Barry Collins
9 Jan 2012

Canonical has demonstrated Ubuntu TV for the first time, as the company moves to broaden the reach of its open-source OS beyond the PC.

Plans for versions of the Linux distro for tablets, smartphones and TVs were unveiled last year, and now the television is - perhaps surprisingly - the first of those to arrive.

The company is showing off the first Ubuntu TV at CES here in Las Vegas, and Canonical expects the first Ubuntu-powered television to be on the shelves by the end of this year.

Ubuntu TV films

"It's a simple viewing experience for online video, both your own and routed over the internet," Jane Silber, Canonical's CEO told PC Pro. Movie streaming services will be supported as well as live television broadcasts.

There's no question the world is moving to a more mobile environment, but I wouldn't characterise it as us giving up on the PC market

Silber told us Canonical was in discussions with a number of television manufacturers, but couldn't confirm any signed deals. It will face stiff competition from Google - which only last week added LG to its roster of Google TV manufacturers - and Apple, which is widely tipped to be working on an internet television after making little impact with successive generations of its Apple TV hardware.

Silber however remains confident that Ubuntu TV can offer something different to its two formidable rivals.

"OEMs and ODMs are increasingly wary of the walled garden [approach] that certainly Apple takes - and increasingly Google, although it's much more open than Apple," she claimed. "We see a lot of demand for a neutral player."

Ubuntu TV EPG

Though Canonical may struggle to match the marketing muscle of Google and Apple, the company plans to woo manufacturers by supplying the software free of charge. Silber said Canonical will primarily target the US and China with Ubuntu TV, with expansion into other countries - including the UK - hinging on whether Ubuntu can agree local content deals.

Ubuntu TV - film rental

Work also continues on Ubuntu for mobiles, but Silber couldn't specify when that version of the OS will arrive. However, she stressed that Canonical's diversification into other devices shouldn't be seen as a withdrawal from the PC market.

"There's no question the world is moving to a more mobile environment," she said. "But I wouldn't characterise it as us giving up on the PC market."

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