Ubuntu opens up a new market for Linux: Mobile

Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu Linux fame is doing what other Linux vendors have never done: He's creating new markets, rather than cannibalizing old ones.

For as long as some have been talking about "The Year of the Linux Desktop," I've been hearing the same thing about "The Year of Embedded Linux." My first open-source company was Lineo, an embedded-Linux vendor. I used to preach the gospel of embedded/mobile Linux.

But its "year" never came. As with Godot, we're always waiting for Linux to own mobile and to own the desktop. And despite Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin preaching that embedded Linux's time has come, I've become a bit too jaded to lend much credence to the next big announcement about how it's really, truly, definitely here this time.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, however, may have finally cracked the code.

Mark's Ubuntu is making serious in-roads with the mobile market by helping to define and drive an entirely new class of device, the ultra-portable/sub-notebook. In this market, Mark isn't introduced in trying to steal market share from Novell and Red Hat; rather, he is attempting to create new market opportunities for all.

I suspect he'll succeed. Mark doesn't gloss over Linux's traditional UI problems. He doesn't kid himself that if he builds it, people will flock to use Ubuntu Linux for mobile devices or anywhere else. He expects to have to earn business based on a superior product, and not merely a superior development model.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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