One, it used to be that the people had spoken and all anyone wanted was an iPhone. Then Android got better. Now you say all anyone wants is Android and iOS, but Windows Phone is picking up steam, webOS had a great following before HP bungled it, millions of people are waiting for BlackBerry 10, and so on. The market definitely wants more than just Android or iOS. Whether Ubuntu is what they want specifically is a different question, but you're completely wrong that the market only wants two.
Edge use might be a polarising issue, but people love it on the N9, and people love it on the PlayBook. It's not bad design, in fact it's very good design. Some people just don't like good design - see the complaints about Metro and Unity for some glaring examples.
Alright, lets use some facts here to illustrate my point.
Let's consider the start of Android's life to be around version 1.5, which was released in April of 2009. When it was released, here's what the mobile market looked like:
Apple was beginning to be "all anyone wanted" as you would say, but in reality, Symbian had the largest market share by far, RIM was solidly in second, Apple was emerging, and Microsoft was starting to fade a little but still prominent. So when Android was coming onto the scene, there were 4 other major competitors. The market was still fairly open, smartphones were basically still only beginning to get popular with the general public, and Apple and Google promised big changes to the market.
Fast forward to today:
Now smartphones are in every person's pocket. The market has matured, and between Google and Apple, they own 88% of the market, and every other competitor is losing ground. Windows Phone you said? I'm not sure where these delusions that Windows Phone is becoming really popular are coming from as they continue to lose market share.
One other important number missing from that second graphic is the fact that while Symbian and RIM owned 70% of the market back then, that was 70% of a total sales of 38 million. Now Apple and Google hold 88% of 491 million smartphones sold last quarter.
Also, webOS?? webOS never had any decent market share, and you're right, millions are probably waiting for Blackberry 10. Millions out of that 491 BILLION smartphones shipped last quarter probably care about Blackberry.
So maybe we're talking about different market shares here, because the numbers don't match what you're saying. It would be one thing if Ubuntu could sell millions of phones, and that's cool and all. Hell, if I could sell a few millions phones, I'd be happy even if I didn't have a sizable market share, the problem is, as the Blackberry Playbook is probably the best example of, if you only sell a small number, no one is going to build quality apps for your platform. Without quality apps, no one is going to buy your product. I personally think the concept of the Ubuntu Phone OS is fantastic. Sure I didn't like the edge gestures, but looking past initial design prototypes, the concept is fantastic. However, if you tell me I could have an Ubuntu phone with **** for apps that's mostly only good for docking as a slow computer, or an Android with a massive amount of quality apps comparatively, even I'd take Android. The smartphone market just doesn't allow for small fish in the sea unless it's low end phones. My guess is that they think they can harness the power of the open source community to build open source ports and extensions on their existing Ubuntu apps, but I don't see it being enough to maintain the platform.
Also, let me clarify on another thing a little. Perhaps people wouldn't mind having more choices. Choice is good of course. I would say I'd rather there be more quality smartphone platforms than less, of course. However, people's wants alone don't determine a market or how they act even. Say there are 5 solid smartphone OSes out there. Unless they somehow all run the same apps, which of course won't happen, you have to split development time 5 ways. Now, I'm a small time developer, I can't developer for 5 myself, so I'm going to pick which one or ones? The ones that are most successful. Maybe I'm a big developer. I have the resources to develop on 5, but 2 are going to make me money, and 3 MIGHT pay for their development, but not much more, therefore, I'm more likely to develop only for the top 2. Haven't you heard Steve Ballmer's rant? Developers build a platform. Without developers, you have no apps, without apps, you have no users. Bob goes to the store and see's the Ubuntu phone and is like " Damn, this is pretty slick!" then he gets it home and realizes he can't Skype with his friends on iPhone or Android because there's no Skype app. He can't play Words with Friends with his buddies anymore, because it's not on Ubuntu OS, and so on and so on, so what does he do? He brings it back. And another related thing they are doing is making platform specific features like FaceTime. So maybe Ubuntu Phone looks pretty cool to you, but your whole family has FaceTime and uses it, so too bad for Ubuntu Phone.
Regardless of what people may WANT, these type of markets usually have very few competitors. Look at the desktop OS market. To even say there are 3 major players would be being kind to Apple and Linux. Look at game consoles, there's 3 big players. Gaming handhelds? 2. Markets like this aren't kind to new comers and small timers. They usually have little sales and crappy knock off games or apps that people would rather not use.
Like I said over on the omgubuntu site, I'm not trying to pick on Ubuntu, I'm just trying to point out why I think Ubuntu on Android is a MASSIVELY better use of their time and how little chance that this has at success, not because I wouldn't like to see it succeed, but because I know the mobile market well enough to know how unlikely it would be.
And apologies for the massive posts. Phones are my hobby and I can go one forever.
Oh, almost forgot that last point. Yes, edge gestures are a bad design on a phone that has nearly no side bezels. Android is trying to screw around with it to and it's not going to go over well. Top and bottom edges are fine since they have some bezel. On the Playbook it was fine because it had bezel and also because it was a tablet and most people probably don't even get a case for a tablet. Until they make unbreakable screens that don't require you to use a case, side edge gestures are a very bad design on phones unless you're adding bezel which wouldn't be worth the trade off.