Verizon Wireless has joined Canonical’s Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group for the upcoming Ubuntu for smartphones. The addition of the first U.S. carrier to the now 10-member group of mobile operators follows the earlier addition of the first Chinese (China Unicom) and Indonesian (Smartfren) carriers to the advisory group.
The Verizon participation in Canonical’s Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) is a major coup for its upcoming Ubuntu for Phones. Like Ubuntu for Tablets, the smartphone profile is based on a new Ubuntu Touch interface that will be baked into all versions of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu for phones and tablets
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The only other U.S. carrier to endorse rival Linux mobile operating systems Tizen and Firefox OS is Sprint, which yesterday was acquired by Japan’s Softbank for $21.6 billion in a deal that gives Softbank a 78 percent share.
The CAG was announced last month with a membership of eight. More recently, Canonical announced that China Unicom and Indonesia’s Smartfren had joined the group. The original list included three Korean carriers — Korea Telecom, LG UPlus, and SK Telecom — and four European. The latter include Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom, and Everything Everywhere.
The original announcement also mentioned the addition of “the leading Spanish international carrier,” which would make 11. The group will close to new members at the end of July.
There’s no promise that Verizon Wireless or the other CAG members will offer an Ubuntu phone when the devices begin to ship sometime on or after April 2014. The CAG is intended to act as a “forum for mobile operators to influence the development of Ubuntu for smartphones.” The members will gain access to “early information about Ubuntu and device manufacturer plans to support the OS,” and have an “opportunity to be a launch partner for Ubuntu on smartphones,” according to Canonical.
As Apple and Google will tell you, having the support of Verizon Wireless is a big deal — even if a Verizon deal wasn’t enough to save HP’s WebOS. Canonical can be further heartened that Samsung has delayed the launch of the first Tizen phones to the fourth quarter. Presumably, Ubuntu Touch devices will primarily compete with Tizen, as opposed to Firefox OS and Jolla’s Sailfish OS, which so far appear to be exclusively targeting low-end devices for emerging markets, at least initially.
“Verizon Wireless is joining Ubuntu’s Carrier Advisory Group to participate in technology discussions around this new platform, which has the ability to bring new and exciting features to developers and ultimately, customers,” stated Samir Vaidya from the Device Technology team at Verizon Wireless.