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[Discuss] Ubuntu Phone

Speaking of Web OS, The latest version of GTK will make it possible to
run GNU applications on the web browser using HTML5

2013 should be an interesting year.


On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 3:31 PM, Tom Metro <tmetro+blu at> wrote:
> Jay Kramer wrote:
>> The Ubuntu phone looks interesting
> I saw the video. Pretty slick. Always good to see more innovation in UI
> design.
> I did notice that it fell into one of the common UI design traps of
> rearranging things in the UI automatically in response to how frequently
> you use them. (Paraphrasing) "Your most frequently used apps will appear
> here, and your most frequently contacted people will appear there."
> I get why designers do this. It can be useful when handled properly and
> used sparingly. But generally, dynamically changing navigation is a
> losing approach to learning and efficiently using a UI.
> I'd be curios to know if anyone has inside knowledge as to how Canonical
> is staffing this endeavor. Did they bring in a whole new team, or have
> the desktop Ubuntu developers been reassigned to this?
> If you're a power user of Ubuntu, and were hoping with desktop Unity
> well fleshed out for the novices, that they'd return to their roots and
> do some UI work for the developer community, it seems highly unlikely.
> (Or more so, as it already was highly unlikely.)
>   According to Mark Shuttleworth..."2013 will be all about mobile -
>   bringing Ubuntu to phones and tablets." To do that, he said, Canonical
>   will include more mobile developers in the Ubuntu ecosystem while also
>   further tailoring the Unity interface to work well on mobile hardware.
>   Shuttleworth also wrote about the cloud as a second key area of focus
>   for the Ubuntu community in 2013.
>   ... cloud computing based on Ubuntu is simpler because Ubuntu provides
>   (theoretically) a complete ecosystem for developers and
>   administrators: "Having the same core tools and libraries from your
>   phone to your desktop to your server and your cloud instances makes
>   life infinitely easier."
> ...except the desktop UI design is driving away developers.
> Seen in the comments to that article:
>   Vanessa Deagan Says:
>   I have a gut feeling that Canonical are going to neglect Ubuntu on the
>   desktop as a result of its new highly focused efforts targeting
>   mobile. I really hope I'm wrong here, as Microsoft has just released a
>   disaster with Windows 8, leaving a huge vacuum in the desktop OS
>   space. With the likes of Steam and other game developers now taking
>   Linux (in particular, Ubuntu) seriously, Canonical are in a very good
>   position to fill the void.
> Rich Pieri wrote:
>> I foresee problems with it commercially. Cell phone generational cycles
>> are a study in planned obsolescence. A top of the line device will be
>> trailing edge within 9 months and obsolete within 18 months.
> In a recent Debian Newsletter the Debian developers cite the wide
> variety of mobile hardware as an impediment to porting Debian to it:
>   Paul Wise documented how to install Debian on smartphones: while
>   this is technically possible, the process is complicated by the fact
>   that the Linux mainline kernel doesn't run on many mobile devices and
>   the Debian Linux kernel maintainers prefer not to include non-mainline
>   patches. Paul concluded by saying that "the procedures I documented
>   above are not a great way to support mobile devices at all and could
>   break at any moment anyway. So everyone, please become a kernel
>   developer and help merge all of the many many versions of Android
>   Linux into Linux mainline so that you can have your favourite
>   distribution on your devices".
> But this is hardly a problem for Canonical. They wouldn't be trying to
> run Ubuntu on all the existing mobile devices. They'll contract out the
> manufacture of a purpose-built device, and will be able to control the
> design and life-cycle of the hardware.
> That's the easy part.
> The hard part is how do they get the carriers to play along? How do they
> tell a story to them that make Ubuntu on mobile devices sound compelling?
> The two most compelling aspects of Ubuntu on mobile devices are:
> 1. the new UI design;
> 2. the ability to plug your phone into a dock and use it as a portable
> desktop environment.
> #1 alone will never cut it. People raved about HP's WebOS UI and it went
> nowhere. Lots of people like the Windows Phone UI, and it'll go nowhere.
> The reality about UI design is that it isn't defensible intellectual
> property. Despite design patents, the compelling ideas will still get
> copied in some fashion by the other platforms. (Google gets lots of
> blame for copying from iOS, but the reverse has happened as well.)
> #2 isn't exactly unique. We've seen a few examples of this already
> (Motorola Atrix). In common with those other examples, the Ubuntu mobile
> environment is going to start by asking most users to switch their
> desktop environment to a new platform, which will be the first big
> barrier to entry.
> But more importantly, the end result is a device that appeals to a more
> technically literate audience than the mainstream, and necessitates a
> more open device than the carriers are typically comfortable with.
> Would you want your main "desktop" to be an Ubuntu install where you
> have no access to root and have to live with the bloatware installed by
> your carrier? (The people who are OK with this are also the same people
> who don't really care what desktop they are using, and thus care little
> about the ability to "bring it with them." "As long as I can login to
> Gmail, I'm good.")
> Until the stranglehold that carriers have on the mobile hardware space
> is broken, an Ubuntu smartphone is a non-starter. Canonical doesn't have
> the weight of Apple to bend things to their will.
> Their best hope is to see the emergence of wholesale wireless data
> carriers, at which point they can offer a device that isn't locked to a
> carrier. Maybe Canonical plans to approximate this by becoming their own
> MVNO (a carrier that resells service from someone else's physical network).
>  -Tom
> --
> Tom Metro
> Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
> "Enterprise solutions through open source."
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