Canonical recently announced their plans to develop a new smartphone platform running Ubuntu. The platform is doomed even before it’s slated for launch.
Let’s first explore Google’s Android. Android provides a complete ecosystem, syncing your contacts, emails, and documents via Google’s cloud. Google’s Android provides a complete experience. Google has been so successful with Android that it enjoys more than 1.3 million device activations per day. 1.3 million per day!
The competition is between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. Microsoft tried to enter the market, even placing a former Microsoft exec, Steven Elop, at the head of Nokia as the CEO. Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform has failed miserably, despite Microsoft’s pitiful self-deception believing otherwise. Even such a large company with a budget that boggles the mind failed to compete in the smartphone arena. Nokia, a champion in the smartphone arena previous to Microsoft’s takeover is now a company headed to bankruptcy.
Two years ago, I predicted RIM’s BlackBerry platform would fall into irrelevance within two years. This prediction is quickly being fulfilled. RIM’s customers are flocking away from the aged platform to Android or iPhone. Microsoft isn’t able to convince these potential customers to switch to Windows Phone. Microsoft isn’t even able to convince feature phone users to switch. What makes Canonical think it can?
Canonical doesn’t have any device manufacturers or carriers lined up. In the Ubuntu Phone announcement, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth generically pleads to all device manufacturers and carriers to contact Canonical for a partnership agreement. Canonical would like to see their first device ship by Q1 2014. Canonical has less than one year to contract at least one manufacturer and carrier for its Q1 2014 release. Microsoft had to infiltrate Nokia to get a manufacturer to launch Windows Phone devices. How will Canonical get manufacturers and carriers to take a serious risk on Ubuntu Phone?
Even if Canonical does succeed in finding a device manufacturer, how many activations will Android be seeing per day one year from now? Canonical is going to have a very hard time swaying people to its brand new, immature platform. Their target audience will be people looking to ditch BlackBerry and people upgrading from feature phones. As high-end Android devices become even cheaper, more people will make the switch. Canonical is missing out on one of the best years for smartphone device purchases.
Bottom line: Canonical’s Ubuntu Phone is doomed to fail even before launch. Its fate will be worse than Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform.