As is expected, the recent announcement of Ubuntu for Phones has drawn a stream of reactions and arguments from pundits and analysts in the mobile

Changing the Smartphone Game: We’ve Heard Those Arguments Before

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Ubuntu for Phones

As is expected, the recent announcement of Ubuntu for Phones has drawn a stream of reactions and arguments from pundits and analysts in the mobile space. While there are those who recognise the merits of the new OS and have a cautious optimism about it, I have read mostly comments arguing as to why Ubuntu for phones will not succeed. I will not join in the arguments for or against one platform or the other, as history has shown that it is a fruitless exercise. Most pundits didn’t give iOS a chance. See where it is today. Most wouldn’t even comment about Bada. Yet, Bada OS is at the number 4 spot today in the smartphone market. What I am interested in are the arguments being pushed as to why Ubuntu for Phones is doomed.

Ubuntu Didn’t Make A Mark In Desktop

It is being argued that because Ubuntu never got a solid foothold in desktop computing, it has no hope in mobile. That’s a very insipid argument, if you ask me. Let’s look at the greatest revolution in mobile OS – iOS. Apple has remained a small player on desktop, yet took mobile by storm. Google had no hold on the desktop market, except by piggy-backing on web services. Zero platform share. It is interesting that the two entities who have executed the greatest disruption in mobile were ones with zero to weak desktop control. If it has been done before, it has been done and so can be done again. The argument does not hold water.

The Smartphone Market Is Saturated

This one is quite hilarious, and tends to come from people who are new to mobile. Come back with me to 2007 when the iPhone was launched. There were how many mobile operating systems and manufacturers on ground? We had two (2) forks of Symbian, two (2) variants of Windows Mobile, Maemo, BlackBerry, and Palm. That is as saturated as it gets. Yet, iOS still disrupted things. It was even worse when Android came on board, because iOS had then been added to the list, making the market even more saturated. Yet, Android leads the pack today. That is an OS that came into a saturated market.

The Smartphone Dream

Those arguing that Ubuntu for Phones or any other OS is doomed to fail based on the above two arguments have missed it. Those arguments don’t mean jack. Of course, that those arguments are meaningless does not mean that Ubuntu will succeed.

Success in the smartphone market depends on factors that have nothing to do with the above. It has to do with the ability to dream beyond what exists now and to pursue that dream relentlessly. The iPhone was not given a chance to succeed. Android was not either. But they offered dreams beyond what they met on ground, and succeeded. Yes; things are different today, but things will always be different. Things keep changing. And that is part of the foundation for innovation.

The smartphone space is open to dreamers. Regardless of where they have failed in the past, and regardless of how many players are on ground, anyone with a vision and a dream of doing things better can succeed in the smartphone space. Anyone. Someday, Android will be a has-been, as will iOS. They will age (as iOS in particular already is aging), and it won’t be because they become useless. It will be because someone steps in again to change the game. That someone can be anybody – Ubuntu, Sailfish, Firefox, or… Vuvuzelu.


  1. Truly in the mobile landscape, there are no rules Any more.

    Companies go from obscurity into limelight and vice versa, at dizzying speeds.

    Like the writer opined, the fact that the odds are stacked against something succeeding, does not foreclose the possibility of success.

    It a volatile landscape all right. Sudden deaths. Meteoric rise.


  2. Well said.

    It is simply very difficult these to predict what will possibly happen next in the mobile business. I think Windows Phone with the backing of big daddy, Microsoft should not have problems becoming a success, but that’s exactly what we are seeing to. At first, it could have appeared that the sole reason for the difficulty was emulating Apple’s iOS in hardware and software restrictions, but now that most of the restrictions are gone, it is still finding things difficult, and yet the general consensus for people who have tried Windows Phone devices is that Windows Phone offers unique experience and solid performance.

    Of course predicting the success of any platform again could be equivalent to predicting its doom but I truly see more reasons why Ubuntu should succeed than fail. I’m sure many people will appreciate it if they can easily hook up their smartphones to a monitor and a keyboard and have serve as full~blown desktop. That’s a unique selling point that can see Ubuntu for smartphones succeed. Of course, it does end there. If phone manufacturers should ignore the efforts of Canonical© and what they are bringing to the table, they will still struggle. There are too many variables involved to be so certainly about anything these days

  3. Smart talk by Mr. Mo. It’s the same way with human life. You can’t foreclose possibilities. We can’t write off a person. Unknown persons have been known to spring from no where to sudden success, fame, fortune and celebrity status. Successful folks have been known to crash to the grass in the twinkling of an eye.

    That’s why I won’t write off Blackberry, HTC, Nokia and others who are struggling to survive the smart phone World War. Today’s leaders should watch their backs: Samsung and Apple, you’re surrounded by desperate and dangerous sharks in the water.

    Huawei just unveiled 2 powerful Galaxy Note 2 rivals at CES 2013 – Huawei Ascend D2 and Huawei Ascend Mate (a beast at 6.1 inch screen size). An HTC M7 maverick is also on the way. Sony promised ‘something extraordinary’. LG Optimus G2 is waiting in the wings. iPhone 6 is itching set to do battle. Indeed, 2013 promises to be Year of the Long Knives for OS platform and smart phone hardware warriors. Any slacking, and today’s leaders will find themselves kissing the canvass!

  4. For me what Ubuntu needs to succeed is content. iOS and Android success was accelerated by already available contents.

    I like the Ubuntu OS and am sure waiting to see it.

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