Mark Shuttleworth, the South African billionaire who sold his young, Cape Town-based start-up Thawte Consulting to VeriSign for US$575m in 1999 and who then went on to spearhead the creation of the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system, has now set his sights on shaking up the global smartphone business.
Shuttleworth on Wednesday lifted the lid on plans to offer Ubuntu Linux on smartphones and provided more insight into plans to allow users to install the Linux operating system alongside Google’s Android on high-end devices so that they can double as more traditional PCs when connected to a monitor and dock.
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, says its aim is to create an operating system that runs across multiple devices, from smartphones to Web-based television set-top boxes to laptops and desktops. The Ubuntu operating system for smartphones, which is expected to be available in 2014, has a redesigned, touch-based interface and several new innovations that set it apart from Android and iOS (see the video demonstration by Shuttleworth above).
For Shuttleworth, the smartphone business is going to be a tough nut to crack. He’s entering an already highly competitive and crowded market with two increasingly dominant — and cash-rich — players in Google and Apple.
The company plans to use the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which takes place next week, to showcase the software and talk to potential hardware and operator partners and software developers.
It claims that the software will run on even the “leanest” smartphones, with as little as 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor. It will run both Web apps based on HTML5 and native apps developed for the platform using its software development kit.
Alongside news of Ubuntu for smartphones, Canonical has also provided more details about Ubuntu for Android, which will allow users – or companies’ IT departments – to install Ubuntu alongside Android on high-end phones (see video below). This will allow users to run a full desktop, based on Linux, when the phone is connected to a monitor and some sort of docking port.
This, Canonical says, will allow handset makers to drive sales of multicore phones with faster processors, more RAM and high-end graphics; target lucrative markets for thin clients in the business space and as first PCs in emerging markets; and offer accessories such as docks, cables, keyboards and displays. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media