Ubuntu Phone

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 2 2013 6:23 PM

Ubuntu Phone

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Screenshot (ubuntu.com)

Here's an interesting development. Today, Canonical—makers of one of the more popular consumer Linux distributions around—announced Ubuntu for phones.

The trick here is that it's not a new operating system. Instead, it's a new phone-optimized interface. But it works by loading a whole Ubuntu Linux distribution onto a phone. That means you can dock the phone to a monitor and keyboard, and—bam—you've got a desktop computer operating system at work. The Motorola Atrix was launched as an Android-powered smartphone with this kind of docking capability in mind, but the phone was only so-so (I owned one) and the docking experience sucked.

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But it's a neat idea. At the moment, Canonical seems to have zero smartphone makers lined up eager to ship these things. As long as that's the case, obviously this isn't going to change the world. But there are a lot of players right now in the smartphone game who aren't making any money in an iPhone/Samsung world. Someone might want to take a look at trying something different.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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