Canonical Officially Ends its Mobile Aspirations

Canonical, the company that specializes in Linux distribution had big aspirations to become a dominant player in the mobile industry. Specifically, it wanted to develop Ubuntu-based smartphones and tablets. However, it looks like it’s given up those aspirations. According to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, the company will end its investments in the phone business.


Over the last few years, Ubuntu-powered smartphones have made sporadic appearances in the U.S and elsewhere, but they were never round to create any kind of substantial impact on users. Expectedly, this company had no presence or market share in this mobile market, even after years of development and investment.

Looking back, on February 19th 2014, Canonical announced that it has signed agreements with bq of Spain and Meizu of China, both smartphone manufacturers to develop and sell Ubtuntu smartphones to customers worldwide. To give you a perspective, bq is the second biggest seller of unlocked smartphones in Spain while Meizu is one of China’s successul high-end smartphone manufacturers.

Since then, a few versions were released but nothing fruitful came out of the investment. Considering this scenario, Shuttleworth believes that the company has to make some tough decisions for the future, and one of them is to completely close-out the smartphone arm of its business.

Likewise, Canonical will also discontinue the development of Unity8 desktop environment, and hence forth will go back to its GNOME desktop. This desktop was also one of the key components of Canonical as it wanted to create a single interface across all devices.

The disappointment in discontinuing both these products was evident in the blog post by Shuttleworth in which he laments that the company was unable to continue its aspirations because it is different from the expectations of the community and the cloud industry as a whole. He said that the company will continue to give free software as this would be a relief in the technology industry that is mostly dominated by closed and proprietary alternatives.

This brings up the next question – what is the company going to focus on in the future?

The company’s CEO and management believes that cloud and IoT are the future and these are the areas in which Canonical will put all its efforts. ¬†Already, it’s worthy to note that most public cloud workloads and private Linux cloud infrastructures rely on Ubuntu for their operations. In addition, many applications in the areas of robotics, networking and machine learning also rely on Ubuntu to provide the underlying software components and structure.

Given this scenario, it makes sense for Canonical to focus on these areas, and to help fuel more growth and usage in both cloud and IoT sectors. In particular, focusing on IoT can help the company reap big rewards because for one, IoT is still in its nascent stages, and second, it may need an open software that can work across multiple devices. Canonical may be in a position to provide this underlying infrastructure if it makes the right moves.

In view of all these changes, this strategy may not be so bad after all for Canonical.

About The Author
Lavanya Rathnam is a professional writer of tech and financial blogs. Creative thinker, out of the boxer, content builder and tenacious researcher who specializes in explaining complex ideas to different audiences.
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