2013 is the year of the truly open smartphone. Android kind of fits the bill, but some OEMs lock down their devices. Instead, this year will see the launch of two truly open mobile platforms - Firefox OS and Ubuntu.
While we don't know when Firefox OS will launch, but the Wall Street Journal reports that Canonical will launch the Ubuntu smartphone in October. Canonical says that it will launch the new smartphone in two geographic areas at that time. It's unknown at this point if the U.S. is one of those launch markets so hardcore Linux fans may not want to get their hopes up.
Leading up to the October launch, Canonical has to make sure developers are on board building apps for the new mobile Ubuntu platform. To that end, the OS will be going out to developers in late February. The WSJ report says that the current developer OS is optimized for the Galaxy Nexus hardware.
There may be concern among developers, however, that building applications for an untested platform would not be a wise decision. That's where the real magic of Ubuntu mobile comes in. Canonical says that any application built for Ubuntu will work across both desktop and mobile. Even if Ubuntu smartphones don't immediately take off, developers still might earn a following on desktop.
Of course, it doesn't look like Ubuntu will have any trouble finding acceptance among carriers at least. Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth told the WSJ that carriers are liking what they're seeing from Ubuntu smartphones.
All of this leads up to a potential growth spurt for Linux adoption. Desktop Linux is getting more and more support everyday from major players like Valve and maybe even Microsoft. The addition of a mobile ecosystem that shares applications between itself and its desktop counterpart is all kinds of genius. It may just be what Ubuntu, and Linux, needs to become a mainstream player in personal computing.