Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 25 Aug 2013

Canonical's next move after $32 million Ubuntu Edge crowfunding failure: Find a real phone, put your damn system on it AND JUST SHIP SOMETHING ALREADY

I'm not surprised about the failure of Canonical/Ubuntu's million "give us , we promise to give you a phone packed with unproven, yet-to-be-seen technology sometime next year" campaign.

And it's not success wrapped in failure. It's just failure.

First of all, is a lot of money.

Second, Canonical is a company that has done a lot -- Ubuntu has certainly (and sometimes even successfully) gone its own way in the Linux desktop, server and cloud spaces. Live CDs, more drivers, a dependable release cycle for a Debian-based distribution, a huge and helpful community. Those are all great. But that seems so ... 2010. For Canonical anyway.

Canonical has promised a whole lot and delivered almost none of it:

  • Ubuntu TV (I don't think anybody ever wanted it ...)
  • That dockable Ubuntu-running Android phone from a couple years or so ago (seems eerily like Ubuntu Edge)
  • Ubuntu Touch preloaded on a phone or tablet (they're promising this "early next year")
  • Meaningful numbers of preloaded Ubuntu desktops (despite the claim by SABDFL Mark Shuttleworth of high percentages of Ubuntu-running PCs, you can barely find them in the real world)
  • The multicore Ubuntu ARM server (Remember that thing at the last [or nearly last] "real" UDS? It wasn't a Ubuntu-made product, but they did feature it, and I don't see it)

All we do have is Unity -- a desktop environment optimized for touch and tablet with few to no devices to show for it unless you can geek out and install it yourself.

Unity is a big achievement. I don't blame Canonical for jumping off of GNOME. I knew they'd go their own way when they couldn't control the upstream.

But this Ubuntu Edge thing was over the top. Asking tens of thousands to part with today for a phone next year that promises cutting-"Edge" hardware unproven by any manufacturer -- and all this from a company that has NEVER SHIPPED A SINGLE HARDWARE PRODUCT?

(Unless I'm missing something, Canonical has never shipped hardware of any kind.)

No. No. No!

Canonical can fix this. Here's what they should do today:

  • Find an existing phone -- a Nexus something-or-other -- that they can get in quantity
  • Pound Ubuntu Touch into this device so everything runs as it should. Order up these devices by the thousands, flashed with Ubuntu Touch and ready for market
  • Repeat for the tablet form factor
  • And then sell the damn things

Once again if I'm not being clear:

  • Develop for -- and sell -- the hardware that's available today. Just do it. Do it. Stop asking for multi-millions in advance and START FOCUSING ON DEVICES YOU CAN SHIP TODAY

Just ship. Everything else is noise.