After a disappointing year which saw its Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign miss the mark by over $19 million, Ubuntu Touch OS maker Canonical has taken the first major step in delivering a Ubuntu Touch smartphone in 2014. Speaking to CNET this week at LeWeb conference, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth confirmed that the company has signed an agreement with a yet-unnamed hardware manufacturer to release high-end phones powered by Ubuntu Touch sometime next year. Shuttleworth also said that the company is in high-level negotiations with at least four other major smartphone manufacturers.
The company will still have to secure carrier agreements to guarantee a Ubuntu Touch OS release in 2014. Shuttleworth told CNET that Canonical has received endorsements from Vodafone, 3, EE, KT, SK Telecom, Verizon, Deutsche Telecom, T-Mobile, PT, as well as others. Carrier appeal for the Linux-based OS lies in its open source nature, which allows for low level customization, similar to Android. In addition, Canonical has no current plans for a centralized app store, allowing carriers to fill the gap with their own branded offerings.
We had a chance to play with an early version of the Ubuntu Touch OS running on a Galaxy Nexus at CES in January and it left us intrigued.