A few years ago the open source community got pretty excited after Jolla, Mozilla, Samsung, and Canonical all announced their intentions to get involved in mobile. In the time since, Jolla - the owner of Sailfish OS - has hit rough waters regarding funding, Mozilla has canceled Firefox OS for smartphones, Samsung's Tizen OS is still restricted to select countries such as India, and Ubuntu is struggling to break into the market in places like Europe, where devices have launched. Finally, one of these might be about to make a significant breakthrough later this year.
Speaking with The Register, Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, believes that hardware makers who ship Android devices are becoming more wary about Google's control over the OS and its efforts to push its own devices. She confirmed that Canonical is talking with Android OEM partners regularly and "many will be shipping Ubuntu phones." She continued on to say that "There's a lot of interest from these folks in supporting another platform."
Silber did not confirm which phone-makers Canonical had been in contact with, however, Samsung could be one of the them as it has been seeking an alternative to Android with its own Tizen platform. There's every possibility that Samsung could ship devices with Ubuntu to see how they sell compared to its own Tizen devices.
Currently, Ubuntu only ships on select BQ and Meizu devices, last week Canonical and BQ announced that the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet would be made available for purchase in Q2 2016 - it's the first Ubuntu device to come with convergence functionality.
Canonical's CEO said that Ubuntu phones and tablets are different to Firefox OS because the latter had nothing to new offer. Silber believes that convergence - the ability to plug in a keyboard and mouse and have the tablet or phone turn into a full desktop machine - is a game changer and will make Ubuntu OS relevant.
For Canonical to succeed, it will be crucial that devices shipping with Ubuntu are competitive - on a hardware level - with current Android and Apple offerings. BQ's offerings to date have been less than impressive, with regards to hardware.