Rumors Running Wild About Ubuntu’s Top-Secret New Product

Well, we’re in the final countdown now as 2012 draws to a close, so you’d think all would be quiet here in the Linux blogosphere as bloggers hunker down to recover from what’s been an exceptionally exhausting year.

Linux Girl, for one, has been putting in extra hours on her favorite barstool down at the blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge in an effort to recover a bit of the sanity that slipped away in 2012.

Sadly, no such luck!

‘A Brand New Product’

Right in the middle of yet another double Peppermint Penguin, Linux Girl’s Tux Phone began screaming. There was fresh news to be covered, and with a hefty twist of mystery, to boot!

“Save the date: Jan 2 — Ubuntu set to disrupt a new ecosystem,” read the urgent message. “Ubuntu will announce a brand-new product.”

Luckily for her readers, Linux Girl is always on duty. She donned her mask and a fresh cape and set off for Canonical HQ.

‘Ubuntu for Phones or Tablets’

All lips were maddeningly sealed at the Ubuntuplex, of course, but the same couldn’t be said of the blogger crowds camped outside in the hopes of learning more detail. The TuxRadar team, in fact, lost no time in launching one of its famous Open Ballots on the topic — with prizes, even!

Meanwhile, Linux Girl fired up her Quick Quotes Quill and took down as much as she could.

“I’d love for Canonical to come out and completely surprise me, but I have a feeling that this is going to be Ubuntu for phones or tablets,” Google+ blogger Linux Rants offered. “It’s a product that we’ve all been aware of for quite some time, but Canonical hasn’t really fleshed out with details.”

‘Hey, Let’s Rip Off Apple!’

Canonical already has TVs, desktop computers and servers covered, Linux Rants added.

“Maybe I’m just lacking imagination here, but to me that really only leaves phone/tablet markets and game systems,” he said. “I’m betting on the phone/tablet market, though it’s possible that Canonical could surprise me and announce that they’ve partnered with Steam for an Ubuntu-based console game system.”

Indeed, “it’s a phone or a tablet,” agreed Slashdot blogger hairyfeet. “Everybody is ‘me too!’ in the ‘hey, let’s rip off Apple!’ dance that is tech now. Just look how the entire Microsoft team is slapping themselves stupid and torpedoing the company trying to rip off Apple.”

‘Probably Something for Business’

Blogger Robert Pogson had other ideas.

“If this were some consumer hardware product, it would have been released for Christmas,” Pogson told Linux Girl. “This is probably something in software or a hardware product for business or data centers.”

Pogson’s guess?

“I would bet it’s some cloud services to use with all the gadgets being sold over the Christmas period,” he suggested. “Perhaps it’s a service to help businesses manage ‘Bring Your Own Device’ systems, essentially passing all those problems inherent with that kind of flexibility to Canonical so as not to give so many heart-attacks to business IT departments already stretched thin.”

‘I Don’t Have a Clue’

Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol admitted he was mystified.

“I don’t have a clue what this big announcement might be,” Ebersol told Linux Girl. “A new ecosystem? Cross platform? Oh, this could be Ubuntu ported to tablets or cellphones.”

On the other hand, “if they mean software platforms… Would that be Ubuntu running Mac OSX apps natively? Or windows apps natively (with CrossOver integrated on it )?” he mused. “I can only guess.”

‘A Muzzle for Mark Shuttleworth’

Alternatively, “maybe the new product will be a muzzle for Mark Shuttleworth so he doesn’t alienate the user base every time he opens his mouth,” Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien suggested. “I can’t decide if he is really nefarious or just sounds like it when he talks.”

Then again, “what is the point of even trying to guess what they are planning?” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack wondered. “I might care after they announce something, assuming it is good, but to obsess over something they haven’t announced yet is just silly.”

In any case, “I don’t think we should expect that much,” opined Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor.

‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’

“The press release does say, ‘next generation of cross platform operating system,’ so I would expect an ARM-based operating system that can run on phones and tablets with an x86 variant for tablets and desktops,” Lim went on. “Three versions will be released called Ubuntu Phone, Ubuntu LT and Ubuntu 8, and will have a user interface called Urban.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs “was a master of this kind of thing,” Lim noted. “When Cook or Page sends one of these press releases, I do take notice.”

Shuttleworth, on the other hand, “is like the boy who cried wolf,” Lim concluded. “While I do seriously respect the company, plans are announced to generate interest and presumably to generate funding. Don’t expect to pre-order something new and shiny on Jan. 2.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.


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