MWC teaser meizu
Last year’s MWC teaser

Mobile World Congress 2017 kicks off in late February, and Canonical is, once again, going to be in attendance.

But although there are unlikely to be any shiny new Ubuntu phones and tablets to show off, Ubuntu Touch won’t be entirely absent.

And it’s all thanks to the community.

Canonical at MWC 2017

Last MWC saw the Bq Aquaris M10 being demoed and gave us a closer look at the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition. This year things are looking like they’ll to be a little thinner of the mobile devices front (but expect plenty on the embedded devices side of thing).

But Ubuntu Phone will be there for some of the 100,000 (estimated) attendees to play with thanks to Smoose, a company based in the Netherlands that provides “open source FOSS solutions for SME’s in the area of office automation”.

Canonical will share a booth with Smoose, a Dutch company

The company, which says it is “motivated by the belief that free transfer of knowledge and software is fundamental for free markets and freedom of people,” have been invited to share a booth with Canonical this year.

Canonical will (we expect) be putting a lot of focus on the Internet of Things, Snappy and the desktop Ubuntu convergence story over the course of this congress.

Smoose, however, say they will be at MWC to “emphasize …the story behind UBports”.

What’s Ubports Again?

Ubports (or ‘Ubuports as ai continually mis-type it) is the community-based effort to port Ubuntu Touch to a variety of popular Android-based smartphones. The prokect already maintains ports for the One Plus One and the Nexus 5.

But one of its targeted devices is getting some serious attention — and thats the Fairphone 2 This pricey (but well regarded) phone will be spotlighted by Canonical and Smoose will be showing off in all its Snapdragon 801, modular component glory.

‘Canonical says it plans to focus all its Ubuntu Touch efforts on the Bq M10 platform family’

“The fact that Canonical is willing to take on the promotion of our project, and the initiative UBports in particular, proofs that they take UBports and our goal very seriously,” Ubports says in its latest newsletter.

“Yes, it’s true that click-apps will be replaced by snap-apps. And yes, we based our port on click-apps, but Canonical still wants us to share a booth at the MWC because they take the shout-out to keeping Ubuntu phones on track seriously,”.

The recent news that Canonical is to refocus its —comparatively limited, mind— resources on bringing the Unity 8 desktop experience up to speed with Unity 7, not to mention its continued work on transitioning ALL THE THINGS to Snappy, left some feeling glum about the project’s future.

But it’s important that we stress — again — Ubuntu Phone is not being abandoned or forgotten in the rush to switch to Snaps. Canonical is, for technical reasons, readjusting its priorities, and plans to focus all its ‘touch efforts on the Bq M10 platform family’ for now.

So although we may not hear of a new handset OEM going all-in on Ubuntu Phone anytime soon, the fact that Canonical is keen to highlight the community’s work in keeping the project going is, I think, rather telling.

Ubuntu Phone fairphone mwc2017