Vodafone becomes latest carrier to back Ubuntu

Vodafone has joined other carriers in the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group, a consortium of mobile operators participating in technology discussions around the Linux-based operating system.

According to the announcement by Ubuntu, Vodafone Group will join national and multi-national carriers in discussions that influence the development of Ubuntu for smartphones. However, it is not clear how much support Vodafone will provide, nor when Ubuntu-based smartphones will arrive on the market.

The Ubuntu site now lists 15 operators within the Carrier Advisory Group, including Hutchison Whampoa's 3, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom and EE within the European contingent.

The site OMG!Ubuntu noted that membership of the CAG is not a commitment to ship Ubuntu smartphones, and added that many of the same operators involved in the group are also part of similar initiatives for other mobile operating systems including Tizen, Mozilla's Firefox OS and Jolla's Sailfish OS.

Canonical is the company behind the Ubuntu operating system that last year failed in its campaign to raise $32 million (€23.4 million) via crowdfunding site Indiegogo to launch the Ubuntu Edge smartphone, Android Authority reported. According to the report, Canonical is apparently in talks with at least one OEM that will produce Ubuntu-based handsets for the company.

The Yankee Group recently reported that a major release of smartphones running on Canonical's Ubuntu Touch OS is not expected to occur until sometime in 2015. Yankee noted that Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said Canonical had signed up a device partner, but it is not believed to be a top manufacturer.

"In February of 2013, Mark Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu devices were expected to hit the market in October 2013 and now we find out that a major release has been delayed to sometime 2015," said Yankee Group senior analyst Boris Metodiev. "That can only show us that Canonical is finding it difficult to create a competitive platform in a space already crowded with new operating systems, each of them hoping to somehow get one percent market share."

Ubtuntu, Intel and Samsung-backed Tizen and Firefox OS are racing to become the next big thing in the mobile OS world alongside Apple iOS and Android, but the jury is still well and truly out as to which will win through.

Events at this month's Mobile World Congress could reveal more about the current strategies of the different groups.

For more:
- see this Ubuntu statement
- see this Android Authority article
- see this Yankee Group post

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