Canonical set to debut first Ubuntu smartphone in Europe

Canonical, which produces the Ubuntu open source cloud and mobile device platform, is expected to release its first batch of smartphones in Europe on Tuesday (Feb. 10), ending a near two-year wait for the company's first mobile devices.

The company announced that Spanish consumer electronics and software development company BQ will launch the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition for €169.90 ($192) through a series of so-called "flash sales"--limited time sales that typically offer products for between 24 and 36 hours.

Canonical said that the device is the "world's first Ubuntu phone", and that European carriers including Three Sweden, Amena.com, GiffGaff and Portugal Telecom will offer SIM bundles for the handset, which features a 4.5-inch touchscreen and offers an index card-style user interface rather than the tiles found on most smartphones, BBC News reported.

Carriers including Vodafone Group, Three Group, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and EE previously joined the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group, an operator consortium formed to help steer development of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system.

According to CNET, the first Ubuntu flash sale will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday Feb. 10). The online news site noted that such sales tactics are typically used to create headlines by selling large numbers of units in very little time. Chinese vendor Xiaomi recently claimed to have sold 40,000 units of its new Redmi 1S smartphone in under five seconds using the method, CNET added.

Canonical said details of its sales will be published on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with social networks used by BQ.

CEO Jane Silber hailed the "milestone" launch of the company's first Ubuntu smartphone. "The new experience we deliver for users, as well as the opportunities for differentiation for manufacturers and operators, are a compelling and much-needed change from what is available today," Silber said.

The launch comes two years after Canonical failed to get its Ubuntu Edge smartphone into stores, after missing on its bid to raise $32 million (€28 million) in crowd funding to finance the rollout.

At the time, Canonical was riding a wave of interest in alternative smartphone operating systems that predominated at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, alongside Mozilla's mobile version of Firefox, and the Tizen operating system now being championed by Samsung for its smart TVs.

For more:
- see Canonical's launch announcement
- view this BBC News report
- read this CNET article

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