Back on January 22nd, 2012, when Thorsten Heins took over as President and CEO of Research In Motion, many folks were eager to hear his thoughts on the future of BlackBerry. After the initial breaking in period where he outlined all the upcoming changes, he started to talk more about 'mobile computing' and the 'convergence' of technologies such as smartphones, laptops and desktop computers and how a next generation computing platform was the ultimate goal for Research In Motion. As it turns out, he wasn't the only one thinking of these things.
Over at Canonical, the software maker resposible for the Linux operating system Ubuntu, they've now taken the covers off their Ubuntu smartphones. The magic here, after having been in the works for a while now, is that it's much more than a smartphone OS. It's a complete package that provides a full desktop experience when the phone is connected to a mouse, keyboard and monitor. The goal being that you only need carry your smartphone.
Looking back on things, the specs of phones today excel beyond that of computers a few years ago. With that in mind, it's not hard to imagine running your phone and desktop computer all from one device. In fact, the idea itself isn't new. Motorola tried it with Android and their webtop solution but it failed for them miserably due to it not being done right and Motorola pricing it high enough that it wasn't even a considered purchase for most consumers.
Canonical is doing things a little bit differently and rather than taking it directly to consumers, they're going after two very specific markets as noted in their press release, the high-end superphone, and the entry-level basic smartphone, while working with handset OEMs and mobile operators.
“We expect Ubuntu to be popular in the enterprise market, enabling customers to provision a single secure device for all PC, thin client and phone functions. Ubuntu is already the most widely used Linux enterprise desktop, with customers in a wide range of sectors focused on security, cost and manageability” said Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical. “We also see an opportunity in basic smartphones that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email, where Ubuntu outperforms thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation.”
If any of this is starting to sound somewhat familiar, it should. Enterprise has always been a key segment for Research In Motion and the entry-level basic smartphone market is arguably what is helping Research In Motion through their ongoing transition to BlackBerry 10. Plus, this convergence of all things is exactly what Thorsten Heins is speaking of when he mentions a 'next generation mobile computing platform' and that's the heart of sharing this news. Ubuntu smartphone OS looks neat but if Thorsten Heins has his way, it'll be a market Research In Motion is on as well.
The similarities don't stop there either. Just take a look at how Canonical has their OS set up and some of the features it includes:
Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
Deep content immersion - controls appear only when the user wants them.
A beautiful global search for apps, content and products.
Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
Both native and web or HTML5 apps.
Evolving personalised art on the welcome screen.
As of now, we've yet to see any of this vision that Thorsten Heins has for Research In Motion come about but we're sure to hear about it in the coming months and make no mistake, it's going to be interesting if RIM gets into this arena with QNX and BlackBerry 10. Forget desktops, forget laptops -- just the power of BlackBerry 10 and QNX in your pocket. It's certainly interesting to ponder such things for Research In Motion.
Would you all be willing to give up your laptops, desktops and such for one device that you can carry around in your pocket? I know I would provided it worked well enough. If you're looking for more info on Ubuntu smartphone OS as well as some of the challeneges it faces, check out the links below. To me personally, it sounds like Research In Motion and Canonical should be working together.
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