Why Ubuntu Should Just Focus on the Desktop Market

Posted by jun auza On 11/05/2011
Recently, at UDS, it was announced that Ubuntu would soon be coming to tablets, and smartphones, and other devices. Come 2014, Ubuntu, the most mainstream Linux distribution around, will be battling major players like Android, iOS, and Windows for the mobile OS market share.

As exciting as it may sound to any Linux fan, it seems that this is simply one of the worst decisions Canonical has taken recently. Even though Ubuntu is struggling to cross the 1% desktop market share, Canonical is running around in multiple directions when they should focus on their core product, that is the desktop.

Here's why focusing on the desktop market might be beneficial for Ubuntu:

Tough task ahead

Before Unity came, Ubuntu was one of the most stable Linux distributions around. The modern desktop utopia that Unity promised only managed to disappoint its loyal followers. And although Ubuntu 11.10 managed to undo that damage to a certain extent, Unity still is one of the most contentious interfaces around. Let’s say by 2014, Canonical manages to make Unity stable enough to be called a perfect desktop, bringing the same experience on mobile will be another herculean task.

A bit too late

The mobile market is already dominated by Android and iOS. The competition is so tough that even a multi-billion corporation like Microsoft is having a tough time making its mark. In 2014, when Ubuntu will launch its first mobile version, it will face even stiffer competition. And mind you, getting into the market is just the first step. Let’s say Ubuntu manages to get 20% of the market in 2 years, which can’t be ruled out entirely, it will have to be smart enough to play the game of thrones with evil competitors like Apple and Microsoft. The mobile market is a place where lawsuits are thrown at each other every day, and Canonical won’t be spared from the game. What’s more, once Apple starts perceiving Ubuntu as a threat to its empire, we can only guess how ugly things would get.

Changing trends

The mobile market is one of the most tumultuous places around. Even in 2011, it has undergone so many changes that even experienced tech bloggers are finding it hard to keep up with the latest news. Venturing into such a market, that too in 2014, is a huge risk, and it will take a great planning and investment. Ubuntu will have to watch Android and Apple closely for the latest trends. If Apple introduces a new product, let’s say in 2013, the whole industry would flip upside down.

A huge investment

Canonical doesn’t have a lot of money. To bring Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets will take a huge amount of investment in terms of money and time. If only Ubuntu could put that much focus on the desktop, they might be able to reach their 200-million-user goal in time and make Linux a truly popular operating system.

Lack of focus

Recently Google has been busy retiring all their old products. Now, they've just started focusing on what they do best – Gmail, search and few more of their frontline products. Ubuntu, on the other hand, is moving in exactly the opposite direction by focusing on too many things at once. This is exactly the problem Microsoft suffers from right now. Redmond has focused on so many products that they've just lost the focus on their core product that is desktop. We all know how Ubuntu loves Apple. If there is one thing that Ubuntu could learn from the Cupertino-based company, it should be focus. Apple has always focused on their core products, and that's what makes them so great.

I know that it would be very cynical to call it a bad decision yet. However, after the Unity debacle, even the most loyal of Ubuntu fans have started doubting Canonical's decisions. Moreover, many cynics of the industry doubt that a small company like Canonical simply cannot deliver on a platform that's already so crowded. This, undoubtedly, is Ubuntu's last shot at proving them all wrong, and we hope it really does.

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