Ubuntu Phone: (Some) People Are Missing The Point

I thought i had successfully wrapped up my rant on how "smart" phones aren't, but evidently there's still work to do.

Some people don't get what's important or what innovation is.

This morning, while looking for Ubuntu Phone un-boxing videos (I found some), I also stumbled on an opinion piece entitled "The first Ubuntu phone is here, and it's lame" by Mike Wehner who has evidently come late to the Ubuntu Phone party. I won't get into all the details but here are select "treasures" from his piece:

  • "Underwhelming."
  • "A soft ball."
  • "A step backward."
  • "The specs aren’t exactly impressive."
  • "A phone that is so middle of the road it could be arrested for jaywalking."
  • "Two broken promises in the same press release (referring to Canonical's publicity)."
  • "This first step is more like a stumble."
  • Not quite getting it.Not quite getting it.
    I don't know Mike, and he's probably a great guy. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, I think Mike and people like Mike are missing the point, and I'm going to call them out.

    Mike and friends, this is not about technical specs and "my gadget is faster and bigger than your gadget." It never was. You're fixated on the wrong stuff. This is not a nuclear arms race in your pocket. There is no monster at the end of this game that you have to kill to win.

    This is about a community (that includes a company) making a phone that dares to disrupt an (at worst) really predatory and (at best) boring status quo.

    You see, the real story is about the people behind the phone and their motives. Offer me a phone with the fastest hardware, the sharpest screen, and the most megapixels. You might think I'd happily accept it. Now, tell me it's powered by code written to exploit its owner and watch how quickly I refuse to accept your gift.

    It's never about the technology. It's about the social contract.


    I'm not going to link to the original story. If you're curious, a quick search should get you there.

    Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lauramary/


    Quite interesting. well these pints are really new and untouched before.

    play pokies online


    Hmm. Canonical and Ubuntu are not exactly known(among thech savvy people) as doing good community projects(license agreement, Mir, Banshee fiasco, etc). Btw, Android is also OSS and about community of people and companies...
    Sorry! But this article and the whole "dumb phone" stuff are at best fan-boy stuff and really does not show anything except "I want my phone to be the next hot thing" without any real reasoning, which paint the very bad picture about what goes on "Planet Ubuntu"!

    Anyhow, I want Ubuntu Phone because I like tech toys and I consider it fun even if it does not look like having real advantage to mid/low level Android phones.


    I'm sorry but I refuse to accept your gift.


    You are right the hardware of a phone isn't that important. Especially as there are no hardware-hungry apps (e.g. 3D games) for Ubuntu yet.

    I would like to have though a decent screen, battery and camera. I don't know about the battery, but the screen and camera of this phone are nothing I would like to use in my daily life.

    It is a good device to get a first experience with the user but I hope that better hardware will follow soon. I really want Ubuntu to succeed.


    I don't think Ubuntu Phone's success is tied to the "have the best hardware", though ultimately it would be nice to have that. What counts most now is getting it into the hands of as many people as possible and even more, convincing them that they too can contribute to making it better.


    Maybe it would have helped if the laypress journalist in question had been given a pre-release phone for review? Without a hands on experience, laypress are basically going to rely on the hardware specs to draw conclusions.

    Which brings up a related question. Which members of the press participated in the unboxing event or got a pre-release phone for review? Which tech laypress outlets should be look at in the next few days..before the flash sale...to provide a credible review of the experience using the phone?

    Cnet? The Reg? Ars? Which tech press outlet has someone on staff that actually has a phone in hand right now?

    So far I haven't seen a review article from anyone that is based on actually hands on with the phone. There's the unboxing vids from the event... from the event, but that's not the same as a hands on review.



    Excellent point Jef, and I agree wholeheartedly.

    The event was geared to the people that contributed to the phone. There ought to be a second event that educates journalists. Let's hope that happens soon. In fact, let's ask that it happens soon. ;)


    First of all promoting a phone with a SoC made by mediatek couldn't be more anti-community and anti-freedom... Second we already have had a phone with a very traditional GNU/Linux, Qt based pretty/unique interface on a phone called Jolla with it´s Sailfish OS for over a year now and with a lot more community friendly SoC (Snapdragon 400). Calling Ubuntu first, dismissing others and calling mobile landscape as booring is not cool when there in fact is variety and choice.

    Partner up with Intel and someone like Bq to make a phone with a proper a lot more community friendly x86 chipset that actually converges to a desktop or to a laptop with a proper dock while maintainin compatibility with exiting x86 software. Otherwise it´s just gonna be less (no apps) but still samey like every other phone out there.


    Interesting idea. I don't think anyone who's inside the Ubuntu Phone project would disagree that opening up the hardware is a good thing. I think the priority is getting an outstanding OS in the hands of as many people as possible first. The non-free aspects of the hardware can be thought of as a bug.

    Freedom only works if people can actually get it.


    Hi Randall,

    I think you miss the point too. The phone is just a device. OK the UX is disruptive, but for now I don't think that the phone could find a public who is not an Ubuntu enthusiast (to use it since Friday, it's buggy some time, some useful app are missing but it's OK, we have lots of work to do)

    The real point I think, is the revolutionary architecture came with the phone and that will land in every Ubuntu systems. The "Snappy" thing. That is so smart. The same transactional system that work from phone to containers through server, desktop tablets and IoT. And all that begin with the phone


    Hi Winael,thanks for your thoughtful comment. Snappy is indeed a game changer and I think that it and the phone will both achieve success outside the "traditional" Ubuntu community.


    You are awesome and you probably don't hear it as often as you should.
    "It's about the social contract." - Finally someone with a filling in their head cavity.

    A social contract is exactly what this is all about.

    I think Canonical intentionally went with an average specs phone and two small manufacturers so they learn their mistakes - and there has to be some - with people who are early adopters, but not necessarily gadget freaks. Smart move both for a company wanting to shake two giants, and especially so for a tech company. I suspect we'll be seeing more powerful devices around this time next year or even at the end of the year if all goes well which I sincerely hope it does.


    Thank you, you translated my feelings perfectly on the issue. The comments section on Gawker's covering of the Ubuntu phone launch was pretty depressing.


    Well done. Thank you for making it clear. Sometimes I forget that people still think like Mike.


    Indeed I agree with you, it's a matter of social contract. It has always been since the early days of Linux.
    Yet, another point is being missed, which you're not highlighting. The way Linux has raised in the last years was beng able to be installed on machines which where bought with other operating systems aboard. Dual boot at first, then live distribution, to be tested by the most curious users. And it was immediate love for most of them. So people installed linux, more and more, and hardware producers eventually started distributing drivers and unconvering information. Some producers even started funding and supporting linux as a unique opportunity to break a monopoly.
    This is what is needed right now in the smartphone market, where Bada, Tizen and Firefox OS are likely failing. Ubuntu Touch needs to be the Linux for smartphones. Open Source, different and widespread. But to do that, it needs to be ported to several, several smartphones and this is needed now. More portings, more effort to support community-driven portings, for newest and - mainly - widely available NON-LATEST smartphones, which people might still have at hand but not using as the main phone, and so might use to give Ubuntu a try.
    My 2cents.


    There is nothing that makes me want to buy this phone!

    As a friend of mine said in a comment on one of the official videos on Youtube:

    I think Canonical blew it with the promotion strategy. They just released some nicely edited videos, with catchy music (annoying music for me) that say absolutely noting.
    It's a smartphone that can make phone calls, that had desktops and widgets, an agenda, a weather app, phone applications, camera, facebook app, web browser, clock an alarm (listing these as I watch). They couldn't have described a more generic phone if they tried. They didn't list even the smallest thing that could make the phone stand out amongst the plethora of smartphones out there.
    Is Canonical even trying anymore?


    Have you considered joining the project and bringing your ideas to it? Please never forget that this is collaborative. There is no "they".


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