back to article Ubuntu smartphone to go on sale: It'll be harder to get than a new iPhone

The first Ubuntu Linux smartphones go on sale next week, after more than a year of chatter about the upcoming release. Spanish e-reader and 'slab maker BQ’s Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be sold online only during a series of flash sales prior to broader availability. Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as …

  1. werdsmith Silver badge

    I must have a look at these, the only reason I use iOS is because Android is so abominable and Sailfish didn't provide the escape I was looking for.

    This could be a way out, veeeery interesting.

    1. Nuno

      if we'll be able to connect the phone to a bigger screen and use it as a desktop, it will be very appealing!

      with mobile processors getting more powerfull everyday, phones will soon have enough processing power for all the tasks most people use a computer for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why? is a laptop so expensive now?

        If Windows 8 proved anything it is that having a hybrid UI with "touch" mode and desktop views on a device isn't a recipe for success.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          @Coward - "Why? is a laptop so expensive now?"

          Can you stuff a laptop in your trouser pockets?

          Well, probably you can. I can't. And I don't even wear skinny jeans.

        2. thames

          In the "converged" version (not here yet), it's not a Windows 8 type UI. Shuttleworth has said that a single UI can't work across all form factors. Instead, it will have a touch UI when it's a phone or tablet, and a desktop UI when it's a desktop and it will switch between them as required. The two UIs will have common elements so that you can use both without too much effort, but they will be distinct. Apps will be written to adjust to use whatever UI is currently in use.

          That doesn't mean that all desktop applications will automatically need to become touch apps as well. Some things like CAD may not make much sense in this format. However, the common e-mail, messaging, games, and loads of other common stuff will.

          I expect to see Apple, Google (Android) and Microsoft go in this same direction within the next few years. That of course will be a problem for Canonical, since those larger companies will likely reap the benefits of Ubuntu's work in this field before a small company like Canonical can.

          On the other hand, it would be nice to see a European (and British at that) company back in the game again, now that Nokia is gone.

      2. MrWibble

        "if we'll be able to connect the phone to a bigger screen and use it as a desktop, it will be very appealing!"

        The beeb report (not the most reliable tech source, admittedly!) says "Unlike the original proposal, the handset does not become a desktop PC when plugged into a monitor." Shame, that would definitely had me getting one.

      3. keithpeter
        Windows

        No PC capability this time

        if we'll be able to connect the phone to a bigger screen and use it as a desktop, it will be very appealing!

        They blew it I'm afraid.

        "Unlike the original proposal, the handset does not become a desktop PC when plugged into a monitor."

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31148661

        So just another low end slab phone with a mildly interesting interface. I'd still get one if I happen to find myself near a flash sale or included in the appropriate magic circle. Not too interested in the hipster shiny race though really. It was the functionality I wanted.

        1. tracyanne

          Re: No PC capability this time

          The PC capability is still on the way, probably not until this time next year. However given that an Ubuntu phone is still basically the same as my Ubuntu laptop, the major difference is the UI, I prefer it over my Android phone, which requires all sorts of convolutions to root it and make it secure. So yes, if I possibly can, I'll be getting one.

          When the PC capability becomes available I'll be ready. When the PC capability is added the UI will morph from Phone/Tablet UI to PC when plugged in to a Big screen.

        2. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: No PC capability this time

          I rather thought that the docking cradle thing was the whole point. Dissapointed now.

    2. NoneSuch
      Joke

      If a new phone is not announced by a guy in a black turtleneck you just know it is going to flop.

      1. Captain DaFt

        "If a new phone is not announced by a guy in a black turtleneck you just know it is going to flop."

        So you're a Huawei fan, then?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The future...

      First, it'll send all your activity to Amazon. Then it'll randomly eat its own Master Boot Record. Finally it'll somehow amass the world's third largest air force, in spite of being free.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: The future...

        Ah... flying phones doing battle with flying toasters then? Hmm.... idea for an app... gotta' go.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: The future...

          >it will have a touch UI when it's a phone or tablet, and a desktop UI when it's a desktop and it will switch between them as required.

          Thinking generally about the 'One OS, Two UIs' concept:

          - It's a misnomer. We already have multiple UIs on our desktops, eg mouse-driven PaintShop, joystick-driven Wing Commander.

          - People's use of a UI changes over time. E.G a novice uses the mouse to navigate through a hierarchical menu to find a command, but over time they start using keyboard short-cuts for more common commands, and progress to using shortcuts for more obscure commands. This applicable to 3210 era of Nokia phone UI, too.

          -It would be good to see a touchscreen UI tablet used in concert with a desktop UI. The idea of using a desktop application such as InkScape with its major tool palettes presented on a tablet is a very attractive.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But is all the functionality and hardware control there ?

    Also, is that an IOS app you use weirdsmith, or does a web of sorts still work?

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: could be good

      I've been reading the scopes dev documentation.

      The 'net' oriented scopes do not have permission to directly access the phone users storage and vice versa for the scopes searching the phones storage.

      Canonical are also to use their new 'click' package system for a lot of the package management.

      Not sure about the root issue (I'm still using my first smartphone, the N900). I'm considering the ubuntu phone from bq as it's successor but am stil undecided.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: could be good

      The problem with this is that I can see it all starting out well and then going to shit down the line. Ubuntu had the local search to internet fiasco which they first though was a great feature. I think all people really want is an alternative platform that offers security like the Apple App store if required, flexibility to do what you want if desired, but most importantly to not try and fuck you over and sell your shit to all and sundry.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Coat

    "Flash sales"

    the 'net equivalent of a pop-up shop ?

    Something traders in the East End have been doing for years - with suitcases and genuine Rolex watches ...

  5. phil dude
    Linux

    sailfish....

    ?

    P.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    should have flex funded

    How many times more powerful would the Ubuntu Edge have been?

    Where's my phone desktop dock?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: should have flex funded, but failed the target :(

      Unfortunately I doubt this phone will have the docking capability.

      Not that that really matters just at the moment as Unity Next is not yet ready for desktop use, but within the next year, hopefully.

      I've been following this, and from what I've read, it's expected to not be a premium device with a premium price (the phone itself supposedly a BQ android model with some modifications), so I'm hoping it'll not be too expensive.

      From what I've read, the Meizu version might well be more powerful, but also more modified by Meizu.

      I'm waiting for reviews as I am concerned about the 1GB Ram being a little measly for effective Unity operation.

  7. Andy Non
    Happy

    Excellent news.

    Looking forward to some details though:

    1. Will users have root access?

    2. Price?

    Great that apps can be written in C++. I'll be sorely tempted to code for it.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Excellent news.

      3. Will you be able to get rid of all that GUI crap and just get an "xterm" window above your virtual keyboard... and will that be usable?

      I personally don't care much for "apps" no matter what language they are written in. I want a portable terminal/computer.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Excellent news.

        4. Will it be able to make voice calls? Or will these be the first mobile phone where the design team actually forget that legacy function?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Excellent news.

      "Will users have root access?"

      If it's anything like desktop Ubuntu you'll have to use sudo & given your own password.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish them all the luck in the world but I can't see this making even a scratch in the market let alone a dent. The viral marketing that surrounded, for example, the OnePlus One worked because it was a dirt cheap ($299) top end phone running the latest version of Android - these are some strong selling points and enough for some consumers to try a new brand. This Ubuntu phone doesn't look like it'll be as cheap, it's a new player in the phone market, it's running an unknown OS with an unknown community and an unknown collection of compatible apps - I like my new shiny but that's too many things to go wrong for me to splash out some cash. If I'd been Ubuntu I'd have been pushing the whole HTML5 thing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Canonical already had its viral marketing moment with the Ubuntu Edge. But they forgot to tick the box that said "flexible funding", wasting their 15 minutes of fame. Nobody will care about Aquarius E4.5 or any similar device. Good luck competing with Nokia, Firefox OS, Tizen, Android, et al. for the bottom of the barrel.

      So they only made 40% of their goal. But their goal was $32 million. They could have pulled it off despite not hitting the goal. Canonical is pants.

    2. Connor

      "This Ubuntu phone doesn't look like it'll be as cheap...."

      From what I understand the Bq Ubuntu phone will be about £150.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There's no reason why it shouldn't be the same price as the Android equivalent, especially if Canonical did the software, bq just rebadge Chinese phones.

  9. Jay 2

    Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

    Look at this new thing! Too late, no you can't buy it! Yes that might create a buzz, but maybe not one they were intending...

    1. MrWibble

      Re: Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

      Ah, but they can brag that they "sold out within minutes"!!

    2. J 3
      Go

      Re: Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

      It works for Apple, so why not give it a shot? Maybe it works *only* for Apple, not sure, but still gotta try to be sure.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

        If Apple is artificially stifling supply then the latest model's first quarter is even more impressive.

        Apple's PR trick is burying its failures so well that it looks invincible and declining to discuss what it plans to attack next. It's a very different approach from Canonical's over this, the next step in a long-public plan.

        1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

          Re: Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

          Its also a fairly safe business plan, by starting of with small production runs you don't get stuck with large excess stock if the thing doesn't sell. Finding the cash to invest in a large production run would be difficult for small players like Canonical and Bq, making flash sales the only option available.

    3. wayward4now

      Re: Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

      Ubuntu is using flash sales, announced via Twitter, as a marketing tool to create buzz

      Look at this new thing! Too late, no you can't buy it! Yes that might create a buzz, but maybe not one they were intending...

      They pissed me off just by using twitter. Screw twitter and facebook.

  10. dogged

    Credit where it's due

    That was a pretty good article, Gavin.

  11. Greg J Preece

    C++?

    I'm surprised at that. I was expecting something more abstracted/contained, as on other devices these days. On the upside, apps will be fast and the choice of language gives me hope they'll have all the hardware access they could want. On the downside, prepare yourselves for all the memory overruns and segfaults you can handle! It's also a fair barrier to entry, compared to FOS' HTML5 coding for example.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: C++?

      Android supports C++

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: C++?

      Well C++ in the hands of your typical app developer is certainly a bad idea, then again those do not care about what OS their "fart-app" is running, so Ubuntu offers no advantage to them.

      The people who do have an advantage of running, essentially Debian with some crap added, won't run many apps. They will want to have a portable terminal/computer. They want to be able to run OpenVPN to get into their VPN, or they want to be able to tunnel their Internet through DNS to have Internet at hotspots they don't pay for. And they want to be able to compile their software right on the device, without any need for a complex cross-compilation setup.

  12. adnim Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I got an S2

    lying around somewhere, time for a play...

    A proper lightweight mobile computer I can bend to my will, what's not to like? I might even use it as a phone!

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    can't resist

    To all those complaining about how bad the UI in Android is get ready to see how much more horrible it could have been. I am sure it will be pretty slick as long as you stick to their use cases but as soon as you don't you will suffer or simply find you can't even do what you want. More reason why don't want to come out with your beta years after everyone else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the UI ... get ready to see how much more horrible it could have been.

      I know exactly how horrible. I'm going to install twm! :-D

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inspiration

    Sounds like they've reinvented Windows Phone's hubs.

  15. Dazed and Confused Silver badge
    Trollface

    Harder to get than a new iPhone

    That could be because its so much more desirable

  16. CJ_in_AZ

    Flip phone replacement?

    Might be enough to get me to replace my flip phone (which is smart enough to make phone calls) if it were available here in the U.S.

    As a sidelight, Firefox has once again started blocking Adobe Flash as being "outdated" (wow, it lasted a WHOLE WEEK) -- in the couple of minutes since I read another article on The Reg. Hope that their "flash sales" don't involve Adobe!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vapourware

    So what happened to the dockable portable computer in a mobile?

    Another Canonical fail

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "argh, why isn't the damn thing working, I'm burning up here?"

    "doh, of course; SUDO DO ring 999"

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      SUDO: command not found

  19. W. Anderson

    I wish Ubuntu Smartphones and parent Ununtu much success in it's iintroduction of Ubuntu One devices. This represents a refreshing and technically innovative alternative to the Android and Apple iOS homogony that controls the marketplace. Microsoft Windows smartphones are "verified" as losing marketshare, and the proprietary Windows development tools of yesteryear are past their prime of relevance.

    Any Ubuntu smartphone with similar hardware specifications as Motorola Moto-X 2nd generation in competitive price range will guarantee sale to me and 3 other family members.

  20. jason 7
    Linux

    So the question has to be asked this time...

    Can i hack it and put Android on it instead?

    What's good for the goose...

    1. Salts

      Re: So the question has to be asked this time...

      Or how good is the OS on an RPi 2 B+

  21. kaamee

    nice post well written.

  22. crayon

    "If Windows 8 proved anything it is that having a hybrid UI with "touch" mode and desktop views on a device isn't a recipe for success"

    MS failed because they tried to foist a touchscreen UI on mouse toting desktop users. Given the right device where both UIs can be used depending on situation it could be a success. If Ubuntu can produce a device which can run phone-like software as well as full-blown linux desktop software then I will ditch my android phone and possibly could also retire my N900. There is more than enough juice in a modern phone to run full desktop software - I was running a full KDE 3.X desktop on my Zaurus which only had 4GB hdd and 64MB ram.

  23. agricola
    Holmes

    "JUST ABOUT READY--REAL SOON, NOW."

    "“Clearly we are going for the mass market, and [it’s] something we will do intelligently over time..."

    You mean, of course, that 'mass market' which belongs to Android and Apple to the tune of greater than 90%. Of course you do.

    It has already taken you an inordinately LONG time to do it--UNintelligently, while you have seen an upstart like FireFox announce THEIR plans--way after you--to design and produce a phone, and then beautifully EXECUTE that plan while you have been sitting on your hands, trying to determine what your next big excuse will be.

    As a leading technology-news reporting organization put it this past December: the Ubuntu phone is a mirage; it's always 'just about ready'.

  24. PeterM42
    FAIL

    So how many apps....

    ....will be available on launch/flash sale day?

    It's the same problem Microsoft had with Windows 8 phone. It will flop big time.

  25. Robert E A Harvey

    Failed to get one

    I played their stupid game and by the time I got past it the phone was out of stock.

    Irritated now

  26. FunctionalDrug addled Lunatic

    You're all talking about the wrong phone.

    It's an Aquaris. Not an Aquarius.

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