Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Jun 2017 12:07 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

Now that Ubuntu phones and tablets are gone, I would like to offer my thoughts on why I personally think the project failed and what one may learn from it.

To recapitulate my involvement in the project: I had been using Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7 on an on-and-off-basis between its announcement in 2013 and December 2014, started working on Click apps in December 2014, started writing the 15-part “Hacking Ubuntu Touch” blog post series about system internals in January 2015, became an Ubuntu Phone Insider, got a Meizu MX4 from Canonical, organized and sponsored the UbuContest app development contest, worked on bug reports and apps until about April 2016, and then sold off/converted all my remaining devices in mid-2016. So I think I can offer some thoughts about the project, its challenges and where we could have done better.

Excellent and detailed explanation of why Ubuntu Phone failed.

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Different thoughts
by jessesmith on Wed 21st Jun 2017 12:19 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

I think some of what the author mentioned makes sense, other points though I disagree with. For example, I agree with the author the lack of stock was a big issue. There were hundreds of back orders for phones that never arrived. Either Canonical or the OEMs did not order enough units to keep up with demand and it left a lot of people without the devices they wanted.

Canonical did seem to stretch themselves too thin. The concept and design of the phones were good, but they were tackling a lot without enough resources. I also agree it was a pain to try to develop for Ubuntu Phone, doubly so if you weren't running Ubuntu on your desktop. It was virtually impossible for non-Ubuntu desktop users to develop apps for the phone and a little more inclusion of the Linux community would have helped a lot.

However, I strongly disagree that there wasn't a market for non-Android/non-iOS phones. There was clearly a lot of interest in alternatives. Look at any phone forum, look at the massive interest the Canonical Kickstarter received (over $20 million in funding), look at all the alt phone OSes that popped up around the same time Ubuntu Touch did (Sailfish, a new Blackberry line-up, Firefox OS, etc). A lot of people wanted something different.

The author seems to think the design or implementation of the phones was bad, but I think that is a matter of taste. I liked it. Most of the people I showed the phone to liked it too. Not all, but for the most part people seemed to like the concept and how it was implemented.

Finally, I disagree the killer feature would have been Android/iOS/Windows compatibility. Some people want it, but Ubuntu had its own ecosystem and it is/was much cleaner, less ad-filled, easier to navigate than any of those markets. I don't want to run Android apps on a non-Android phone, I'm escaping from the platform, I don't want to take its clutter with me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Different thoughts
by darknexus on Wed 21st Jun 2017 13:09 in reply to "Different thoughts"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The thing to remember when lookinag at phone forums is that most people who go on there are somewhat aware of how limited the market is, and most are technically inclined. For every post you see on a phone forum wishing there are alternatives, there are a hundred people who contentedly use what they have and couldn't care less about what their phone runs.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Different thoughts
by jessesmith on Wed 21st Jun 2017 15:54 in reply to "RE: Different thoughts"
jessesmith Member since:
2010-03-11

Many of the people I encounter on phone forums are general users, not technically included folks. But your point is well taken.

I'd like to point out though that even if uninterested users vastly outnumber technical ones, there was still enough interest in a Canonical-backed phone to raise something like $20 million on Kickstarter. That's just people willing to pay up front for a product sight-unseen that will compete in the mobile market. I'd say that indicates there is a definite interest in something other than Android or iOS.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Different thoughts
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 22nd Jun 2017 17:14 in reply to "Different thoughts"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

There was clearly a lot of interest in alternatives. Look at any phone forum, look at the massive interest the Canonical Kickstarter received (over $20 million in funding), look at all the alt phone OSes that popped up around the same time Ubuntu Touch did (Sailfish, a new Blackberry line-up, Firefox OS, etc). A lot of people wanted something different.


No, No, and triple No. There wasn't demand. Sailfish, Blackberry, firefox os were company lead initiatives. Companies wanted consumers to use non Andriod/IOS devices. No large group of consumers were demanding them, which is a large reason why they all flopped.

Reply Parent Score: 2