Ubuntu has signalled that it is abandoned development of its Ubuntu phone and unity platform and is going back to focus on its core OS and enterprise offerings.
In a blog post, Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that the company was to end its investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell and that from Ubuntu 18.04 the default Ubuntu desktop will revert to GNOME.
“I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts.” he wrote.
In hindsight, the writing for Ubuntu Phone was on the wall. At Mobile World Congress, Canonical focused on their server and carrier solutions and IoT with just one Ubuntu Phone launch – a port of the OS to the Fairphone platform. Unity was a framework that would allow a developer to write once for desktop, tablet, phone and other form factors, but it was one that was not well received.
“In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a ‘better the devil you know’ approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms. What the Unity8 team has delivered so far is beautiful, usable and solid, but I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear,” he lamented.
Shuttleworth wrote that the cloud and IoT story remains excellent and will continue to improve. Going forward Ubuntu will focus on its profitable core solutions – Ubuntu itself, for desktops, servers and VMs, cloud infrastructure products (OpenStack and Kubernetes), cloud operations capabilities (MAAS, LXD, Juju, BootStack), and the IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core.