Ubuntu, the free and user-friendly Mac-a-like flavour of Linux, will be targeted at mobile phones, tablets and smart TVs.
The new OS could chew into Google's Android market share, although it's not expected to hit devices until April 2014, Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu developer Canonical) said in an interview ahead of a speech at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Florida.
After completing the next version of Linux Ubuntu for desktop, Canonical will start to focus on making a mobile Ubuntu, ready to ship by version 14.04 due in April 2014.
Manufacturers including HTC and Samsung want choices and Linux can provide them, Shuttleworth argues. In the fast-turnover world of mobile, he believes they have a chance to push in and disrupt the big names.
The smartest OEM strategy is to play people off against each other. Thus, some OEMs want to have Ubuntu as a disruptive element. A strong Ubuntu can be both more cooperative with OEMs than a larger company and give them leverage with Google and Microsoft.
Android's market share is already under threat from Microsoft's push into the mobile space, and Google themselves made matters worse by coining a deal with hardware makers Motorola, which has made device makers nervous about their future with Android.
"From the industry viewpoint, Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility has shook up the hardware vendors, so some of them are looking for non-Android alternatives,” Mark Shuttleworth said.
Given its niche PC following, the Ubuntu branding won't get customers rushing to Carphone Warehouse but Shuttleworth promises users a "a consistent platform with a tightly structured user experience", and OEMs are the ones he has to convince right now. ®