Canonical Inks Deal with Major Handset Manufacturer for Ubuntu Touch Smartphone

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Canonical has been hard at work on their Ubuntu Touch OS for over two years. It started as a concept  and Mark Shuttleworth’s team got it up and running on the Galaxy Nexus. It hasn’t gotten much traction in the mobile device market, but that is going to change very soon. In a report from CNET, Shuttleworth has stated that they have inked their first deal with a major manufacturer to ship handsets with Ubuntu Touch running on them.”We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones,” Shuttleworth said. “We’ve shifted gears from ‘making a concept’ to ‘it’s going to ship.’ That has a big impact on the team.”

Shuttleworth wouldn’t say which company Canonical has partnered with, but he did mention that the smartphones would ship in 2014. He also said that the devices would be high-end, stepping things up from the current Ubuntu Touch Galaxy Nexus device support. Canonical is also brokering deals with four other “household brands” for more handsets to ship with Ubuntu Touch. Even though the Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding project didn’t reach it’s goal, the fact that it raised $12.8 million has garnered some attention from handset manufacturers. There are a lot of people that want Ubuntu Touch on a high-end smartphone. “We are now pretty much at the board level on four household brands. They sell a lot of phones all over the world, in emerging and fully emerged markets, to businesses and consumers,” Shuttleworth said.

This is a pretty huge step for Canonical. Signing their first deal to move a smartphone that will ship with its mobile operating system is a big move for the company. They have focused mostly on the Ubuntu distribution of Linux for the nine years that the company has been in business.

Canonical knows that they are facing an uphill climb. Other up-and-coming operating systems like Samsung’s Tizen, Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and even Windows Phone are direct competitors for Ubuntu Touch. Shuttleworth is confident that his mobile operating system will find a place to fit in to the smartphone market. He wants more for Ubuntu Touch than just a small corner of the enthusiast space. “Volume is important. We want to do stuff that people use every day,” he said.