Will Google Android Overshadow Ubuntu for Mobile Internet Devices?
I applaud Canonical for pushing Ubuntu beyond the desktop — up onto servers, and down onto mobile devices. But I’m starting to wonder: Can Ubuntu really gain traction on Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)? Or put more bluntly: Does the world really need another mobile device operating system?
We’ve already got Apple Mac OS X running on the iPhone; Microsoft Windows Mobile for smart phones; Google Android on the new G1 phone; and a range of Linuxes running around on mobile handhelds.
Now, along comes Ubuntu for mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Back in July 2008, Works With U reported that Ubuntu for MID:
is designed for computers that are close to smart phones in design. MID devices are expected to have touch screens — similar to the iPhone — and may also have similar characteristics to forthcoming Google Android devices. In some cases, MIDs may be free devices that consumers receive as part of a wireless Internet service plan.
Much of the information was based on a meeting I had with Canonical Marketing Manager Gerry Carr at OSCON (Open Source Conference) in Portland, Oregon.
Fast forward to the present day, and Google Android is grabbing the mobile headlines while Apple’s 3G iPhone remains a hot seller. Canonical is still committed to Ubuntu MIDs — and Works With U wants to give them a try — but it’s clear Canonical has a far bigger mobile hit on its hands.
As Carr predicted to Works With U back in July, Netbooks (another word for sub-notebooks) with Ubuntu preinstalled are starting to flood the market. From Dell’s Mini 9 to Toshiba’s NB100, Clearly, Canonical has a hit on its hands in the mobile market.
But so far the hit is Ubuntu Netbook Remix, rather than Ubuntu for Mobile Internet Devices.