tablet-heroMark Shuttleworth has said that an ‘interesting set of household brands’ are looking at putting Ubuntu Touch on their own phones and tablets.

The Ubuntu founder was speaking in the keynote address at the Ubuntu Developer Summit which kicked off this week.

No specific names, details or dates were offered up alongside the tantalising tidbit, though Mark did hint at one point that he expects Ubuntu Touch devices to be available to buy within the next couple of years.

Ubuntu Tablets = Renewed Opportunity

As mentioned by Jono Bacon recently, honing the Ubuntu Tablet experience will be the ‘key focus’ of the Ubuntu 14.04 development cycle. This was touched upon by Shuttleworth in response to a question on whether Ubuntu plan to make dual-booting Touch with Android easier (they are):

“I’m excited about the tablet form-factor because I think it’s going to be a lot easier for people to enjoy Ubuntu on a tablet [because] doing it on a phone full time is a bit of a deep-device commitment – [though] we’ve heard some interesting reports of government departments using it because we don’t work for the NSA!” 

Other notable points mentioned in the keynote included:

  • Helping developers tailor Ubuntu Touch apps for the desktop
  • Stable, dependable and performant desktop experience based on Unity 7
  • Point releases of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS won’t be introducing Mir or Unity 8
  • Ubuntu on ARM x64
  • Sidestage to be re-introduced to tablet
  • Supporting Android apps on Ubuntu ‘is a goal – but not a focus’ right now

‘Shuttleworth must be hoping that some of those interested household names make a firm commitment soon…’

This latter point appears to represent an about-turn, if true. Earlier in the year Canonical’s Richard Collins told Engadget that there were no plans to “engineer middleware for running Android apps [on Ubuntu Touch]”.

Android apps or not, Shuttleworth must be hoping that some of those interested household names make a firm commitment soon. The longer the gap the more ground competitors are gaining.

Samsung and Intel’s open-source mobile OS ‘Tizen’ recently gained the backing of a further 36 companies, including an array of mobile networks, electronics bigwigs and game publishers.

Elsewhere, Mozilla’s Firefox OS continues to grow its users, OEM and carrier base; while Jolla’s first Sailfish OS-powered handset ships later this month.  And although Ubuntu Touch isn’t aiming for the low-end segment, Android 4.4 debuted with a number of performance optimisations when used on hardware with limited resources.

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