Ubuntu Touch smartphone 2014 release by major OEM unlikely

Ubuntu on smartphones

The Ubuntu Touch smartphone is unlikely to be released by a major OEM in 2014, Canonical has admitted.

The open source software vendor's community manager Jono Bacon made the admission during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session earlier this week.

The company signed its first manufacturing partner for the project in December 2013, and stated at the time the first Ubuntu Touch smartphone would materialise this year.

However, Bacon seemed to backtrack on this claim during his Reddit Q&A session, citing development delays.

"Longer-term we would love to see the major OEM/carriers shipping Ubuntu handsets. This is a long road though with many components, and I would be surprised if we see anything like this before 2015," he wrote.

"When the major OEMs/carriers ship, this is when many of the ISVs will be on-board too."

That being said, Bacon said there's every chance a smaller OEM could release the first Ubuntu Touch device.

"In the shorter-term there are smaller OEMs who serve a smaller region who see great opportunity in Ubuntu, and their costs and risk are smaller for them to trial a device. This is where we will likely see the first handsets shipping," he said.

"My hope is that when one of these smaller OEMs ships an Ubuntu handset that it sells well and it sends a strong message to other OEMs too."

The apparent delay in getting the Ubuntu Touch to market follows Canonical's abortive attempt last summer to release a crowd-funded smartphone, dubbed the Ubuntu Edge.

The firm needed $32 million to get the device made, but ended up falling $20 million short by the end of its month-long fundraising campaign.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.