It has been some time since I’ve carried around an Ubuntu-toting laptop, but my memories of the OS sure are fond ones. I remember the first time I used Ubuntu over a decade ago. I was really impressed with the easy installation (No drivers needed. Gasp!) and the clean UI. Much dependence on the terminal for more advanced options turned me off though, and with my love affair with the Mac OS taking off I turned my back on Ubuntu. I guess it might even be safe to say that were I not so reliant on my MacBook Air and its apps, my laptop would probably be sporting the latest Ubuntu flavour, especially with the OS getting prettier by the minute.
My respect for Ubuntu definitely has not diminished though, which is why I am rooting for the Ubuntu OS for phones. It’s really nice to see Canonical take a crack at the iOS/Android duopoly and doubly interesting to see how they are received by the market.
Ubuntu for Phones looks promising based on the demo video. It looks really good with its hidden docks that can easily be accessed with a single swipe, beautiful typography and icons, eye-catching visualizations and well thought out organization. In short, it looks like it will be a success.
Despite all this, one can’t help but feel a little wary for Ubuntu though with the market being as unpredictable as it is. After all we have already seen an excellent new modern phone OS demo in the past that has failed; that is Palm’s WebOS. This is true not only for phones but in other industries as well. History has shown us time and again how great ideas alone do not always translate to success.
The other problem that the Ubuntu for phones face is its reliance on gestures. The gesture-based approach is pretty cool on paper, but it might spell trouble in terms of discoverability and intuitiveness. It does push the envelope in the right direction, but we being creatures of habit might shun the whole thing if the learning curve turns out to be quite steep. That said, Ubuntu has to make sure that implementation of the gestures be seamless if they want it to go down well with the ordinary user.
Lastly, with the OS not due to ship till 2014 we won’t really know how it will compare with the latest iOS and Android releases then. Again I’m definitely rooting for the Ubuntu for Phones, but I’m holding off on the applause until I get my hands on an actual Ubuntu phone.