Canonical finds first partner for Ubuntu Touch smartphones

First high-end Ubuntu Touch phones will arrive next year

Shona Ghosh
11 Dec 2013

The first Ubuntu Touch smartphones will arrive next year, with Canonical signing up its first manufacturing partner.

CEO Mark Shuttleworth confirmed Canonical had found a supplier, though he wouldn't say which firm.

"We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones," he told CNET. "We've shifted gears from 'making a concept' to 'it's going to ship.' That has a big impact on the team."

It isn't clear whether Canonical's partner might bring the company's failed Ubuntu Edge smartphone to life. Canonical attempted to raise $32 million to crowdfund the handset, but fell short by $20 million.

But Shuttleworth hinted at a wider ecosystem of devices, with further deals in the works.

"We are now pretty much at the board level on four household brands," he said. "They sell a lot of phones all over the world, in emerging and fully emerged markets, to businesses and consumers."

Canonical launched its Ubuntu distribution for phones in October, but up until now has struggled to find anyone to make the hardware.

Even with a partner on board, Canonical will be taking on tough competition in the smartphone market, but Shuttleworth remains ambitious.

"Volume is important. We want to do stuff that people use every day," he said.

There's also the question of getting carriers and developers on board, though Shuttleworth is confident he can win over Android app makers. In a previous interview with PC Pro, he claimed developers would likely target Android and Ubuntu "simultaneously".

"I think the key difference between us and Windows 8 is that we're based on Linux, just like Android," he said. "That means web apps and native apps designed for Android are much closer to being on Ubuntu than they are to being on Windows."

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