Why an Ubuntu Tablet Won’t Sell

Wed, Jun 16, 2010

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Stuck in the Mud
Note: Mark Shuttleworth clarified that Canonical is not working on a tablet edition, but rather other companies are developing Ubuntu-based tablets.

Canonical recently announced that they are developing a tablet version of their popular Ubuntu operating system, slated to be released in 2011. This comes hot on the heels of the release of the Apple iPad, and the rumors that HP plans to release a WebOS-based tablet sometime late 2010. However, Canonical’s foray into the tablet arena is fundamentally different from both the iPad and a WebOS tablet, and unfortunately reeks of a company failing to learn from their competitors successes and failures. Here are four reasons why an Ubuntu tablet simply won’t work.

  1. Canoncial is only a software company
  2. One of the reasons Apple has been so successful with their mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad) is that they control everything about it. They control the hardware, they control the operating system, and they control the applications. The result is that they are able to deliver a streamlined, fully-integrated user experience. When HP unleashes their WebOS tablet, they will also be in the position of having full control over the device.

    An Ubuntu tablet, however, offers none of this. It’s hardware by one company, OS by another, and applications by anyone – and there’s no guarantee that it will all play nicely together. The result will likely be poor battery life, a user interface that doesn’t work for most programs, and just general user frustration.

  3. They’re scaling down instead of building up
  4. The single biggest mistake that Canonical is making is one that Steve Jobs has explicitly warned against. In an interview about the iPad, he told the Wall Street Journal:

    “[Y]ou can’t use a PC operating system, and you have to bite the bullet and say, we’re going to have to create this from scratch because all the PC apps won’t work without being rewritten anyway.”

    Unfortunately for Canonical, they haven’t learned this lesson, and they are heading down the path of scaling down a PC operating system to work on a tablet device. If the tablet OS is anything like the Ubuntu netbook remix, it simply won’t work on a tablet device.

  5. Where are the applications?
  6. One of the biggest selling points of the iPad was that the day it came out, there were 140,000 applications available for it, since from a software point of view it was essentially a scaled up iPhone. Since then, developers have been adding a reported 1000 applications per week.

    But again, going back to points #1 and #2, this doesn’t hold true for an Ubuntu tablet. Sure, there are thousands of Linux applications, but how many of them will seamlessly transfer to a tablet form factor? Who is going to take responsibility for quality control of third-party applications?

    In Linux, downloading packages from the repositories can be hit-or-miss; sometimes you will get a polished, well-tested application that works exactly as you need; but many other times, you’ll get an abandoned project that consistently crashes. Without high-quality, tablet-friendly applications, an Ubuntu tablet simply isn’t useful.

  7. Canonical who?
  8. Apple has an obvious advantage in name recognition. Everyone knows what an iPhone is, and most people think “sleek” and “friendly” when they think of Apple products (though many also think “expensive”), and this is what people want in a tablet. HP will probably have a harder time trying to convince users that their tablet can be fun and easy to use, but they have the advantage that people know their name.

    By contrast, almost nobody knows who Canonical is, what they do, or where they are coming from. The fact that they are most closely associated with Linux can only hurt them from a user’s perspective — most people don’t know what Linux is, and very few associate it with “fun” or “easy to use.”

    Canonical is venturing into an entirely new market, and a year ago there might be some question as to whether or not their idea of an Ubuntu tablet would work. But the success of the iPad has made it clear what the public wants in a tablet, and a Canonical-made Ubuntu tablet, by definition, goes against all the lessons that have been learned about this new market in the past year.

    What do you think?

    Would you buy an Ubuntu tablet over an iPad? Do you think the Canoncial tablet will be a success? Am I completely wrong? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and let me know why you think the Ubuntu tablet will (or won’t) be a success.

    Image credit goes to dicktay2000

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136 Responses to “Why an Ubuntu Tablet Won’t Sell”

  1. Francis says:

    I’m to buy a $300 Ubuntu 10.10 tablet 10″ preferable with multi-touch. Any recommendations?

    • Oraqol says:

      Adam Notion Ink for 375, comes stock with Android-ish OS but I’m sure it would take little effort to get Ubuntu on it. Plus the higher end model has color e-ink and nvidia tegra 2 discrete vid card. They’re back-ordered tho :[

      As for this article: why would I pay for third party applications from some controlled App Store when I can just dl anything I need from the Ubuntu/Debian repos for free? Glitchy software? As long as the architecture of tablet is Linux supported, which most archs are, the apps should run as smoothly as they do on any laptop. I want a full fledged mid-range specced laptop with touchscreen and no cumbersome keyboard, not a ‘scaled up’ phone. The proliferation of the Android OS debunks the accusation that Canonical need be a hardware producer in order to push a tablet OS. And regarding the somewhat petulant ‘Canonical Who?’ argument, Ubuntu Tablet needn’t be bundled with the tablet to make it popular, it just needs to be compatible with released hardware, the devoted and growing Linux base will take care of the rest. Like I said before, even if the tablet I get has some other OS on it, first thing I’m going to do after I unbox it will be to reformat and install Linux. Furthermore, multi-touch support in 10.10 begs the question whether Canonical needs a specific tablet branch at all.

      • Willow says:

        Exactly! I’ve never been incredibly impressed with the apps for either Apple or Android.
        Now, I’m a college student who loves opensource. I’ve been using Ubuntu and OpenOffice for two years now- and my friends have started using open office, as well. My best friend is a business major; it took weeks to learn how to get OpenOffice spreadsheet to do everything he needed it to do, and I went through the same thing for my lab classes.
        I’d love to have a tablet. I really would. But I’m not going to spend $500+ on a pretty multi-screen interface for applications. I don’t need a weather app, a to-do app, an email app, or the urbanspoon app. I have a smartphone for all of those. Labyrinth isn’t worth $500. Can you play real games, like Portal, on an iPad? I think not.
        And I certainly don’t want to have to convert all of my music to Apple-friendly file types when I can use the simple, open-source VLC.

        One of my classmates has an iPad. He hates it. He didn’t buy it himself; his parents bought it for him. Why? Because Apple knows how to advertise. Period.

      • Brett says:

        Stay very far away from the Adam… it is complete junk with zero support…

  2. Simon Cropper says:

    You are not really comparing apples with apples (no pun meant).

    I have a Motion Tablet. Essentially it is the same as a desktop computer except that it does not have a separate screen or mouse. I can run any application that can run on my desktop, on the tablet.

    I have migrated my desktop to Ubuntu and have exactly the same functionality I have in Windows (i.e. email clients, browsers, word processor, GIS systems, statistical packages, graphics programs, etc). I still run XP on a Virtual Machine for some printing and scanning (driver issues with new hardware) but would readily convert to Ubuntu on my Tablet when it was available.

    iPad and comparable hardware, locks you into particular vendors. Hardware and operating systems should be kept separate — if I want to convert my Motion Computing Tablet to Windows 7, Vista, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu or whatever, this should be my prerogative.

    iPad and others are essentially ‘scaled up’ iphones. Canonical’s scaled down tablet operating system is just another solution to a problem.

    Finally, Canonical is planning to release a tablet operating system NOT a tablet computer. Again it comes down to having another alternative to proprietary operating systems with their own file systems and document structures.

    • Christian says:

      *hand claps* – 100% With you
      Freedom is something that iPad(or HP) can’t offer. The concept of a scaled down OS to a tablet is what I love from this idea and it is the way it should be, not just a tablet with high potential but bound to an iPhone OS, that is consequently bound to Apple’s marketing minds.

      “Let freedom never perish in your hands.” -Joseph Addison

      Thanks Canonical.

  3. Jorge says:

    I think youre being a little too negative on this one…If some OS has chances to “scale down” is Canonical’s Ubuntu. A lot of people run Linux on old computers because the low requirements and great performance…

    Odds are always against any new product, but despite the result I can only admire Canonical for really pushing Linux on a whole new level..

    I really hope that you get wrong on this one! :)

    • Mish says:

      Reading this suggests to me the author has limited experience with ubuntu. The repositories clearly mark the supported applications, and with the focus for general use on the software manager, ordinary users could easily be steered towards tried and tested applications. If a debian variant has managed to run effectively on a smartphone/tablet (Nokia n900 – 600 Mhz ARM) for two years, and UNE on 1.6 Ghz Atom netbooks, I am sure ubuntu unity will sit on a multi-touch tablet no problem. The main issue will be whether users expect to have a ‘free’ ubuntu OS, or a supported ubuntu OS – and whether that support will be covered by the supplier. Sure, ubuntu is not HP, Google, Apple or Microsoft – but it is linux. Once Google was unheard of, and before that even Microsoft and Apple were gnats compared to the likes of IBM. Jobs got Apple to where they are today by leveraging linux and NeXt to develop OSX. I see no reason why a firm as admirable as Canonical could not leverage linux into a viable OS alternative.

  4. Eric says:

    I’d much rather have a fully functional version of Linux on a tablet than the ridiculously restricted iPad or even an Android tablet. I want full control and the ability to install any applications that I want. I realize that the battery life is a sacrifice in such a device, but I’m more than willing to take that trade-off. If you don’t want a full slate-style computer, then buy an iPad or Android tablet. As for me, I’m in the process of converting my old 17” gateway laptop into a slate that will dual-boot Ubuntu and Win7. I would have been a lot happier if I could have just bought one new. I probably won’t buy this because by the time it is released, I will already have one. Not only that, but if they(canonical) decides to follow the other manufacturers , it probably will be an extremely low-spec machine. Once again I’ll trade even more battery-life for more processing power and a better graphics card.

    Just my .02

  5. Don Schueler says:

    Well, yes and no. Many people who use iPads don’t even download Apps…they just use Email and Web. This will be the case with my wife..that’s all she uses a computer for. For that level of use….an inexpensive tablet with Ubuntu would be perfect. In face I have set up Ubuntu on a laptop for her and that is what she uses today…so switching over to a nice tablet would be a no brainer for her. The keys are the price, multitouch and battery life. If these are in the right range this could work.

  6. Len Inkster says:

    Apple iPad with 64Gb storage space & WifI, $749
    New software for iPad, $500
    Being out of date within 1 year and having to do it all again, $1200

    An old Siemens Tablet ($250 on eBay) and Ubunutu (Free), Open Office (Free), GIMP (Free), Thuderbird & Lightning (Free), Skype, (Free) pricesless!

    • Ogajo says:

      The author of the article is clearly a Job’s follower.

      I do not know why is comparing all the time with Apple, because there is some other companies in the world that produces only software (os) and works fine on all hardware. not like apple’s os.

      do you think that saint job has build from ground up. ha ha. it seems that you are only a writer and have nothing to do with software. simply user, no?

      like another comment here, yes you can run anything from the desktop on the “reduced” os. no ideea of what are you speaking again. and not thousands, but much more applications like osx has. no ideea here too, no?

      and for the forth comment, it seems that you have no ideea too. only what is released by job. there are more linux users than osx user.

      and not to forget that is free. and it works on yesterdays hardware too.
      just give it time, couse apple will sink like titanic.

      In the end, I would like to wish to the author a “happy Job’s day!”

  7. Victor J Kinzer says:

    You make good points, and some of them are spot on, but some of them miss the mark. I will point out a few areas where I think you’re off the mark, then a few where I completely agree with you.

    Miss the Mark: Can’t scale down a desktop OS. Here’s the thing. The only OS is the kernel. Android has already proven that the kernel is perfectly suited to a tablet environment. Most of the Android tablets have sketchy hardware, but the software is solid. Netbook remix, was a joke as you say, but Xubuntu runs Beautifully on netbooks. I love having Xubuntu on my netbook, and my boyfriend actually uses the netbook interface and likes it. So this comes down to interface design. Performance is already where it needs to be.

    Apps/Branding: So this is an area that could go very well or very poorly depending on the companies that develop the tablets. If the companies understand their market and deploy the tablets with custom repositories including limited carefully vetted programs the Ubuntu use of apt-get could be a huge bonus. It’s a dynamic system that works very well, and is easy to use. If they plug into the Ubuntu repositories and let the wild programs roam then everything you say here is completely valid. That is up to the third party hardware developers. Some will mess this up, but some might get it right.

    Canonical Who?: This goes to a general branding marketing issue. Ubuntu has created an excellent user experience. The proper marketing hasn’t happened to make sure people know about that user experience. I personally find management of an Ubuntu desktop to be considerably easier than management of a Windows desktop, but people don’t know how it works going in. That is not a product flaw, that is an educational and marketing challenge.

    The opportunity is there. No company has properly leveraged that opportunity at this point. The first one to do it wins the prize, they always do.

  8. harry krishna says:

    is it too late to tell you that you are full of it?

  9. Bart says:

    I don’t think it’s going to be a success…

    Just as already said in the article, Ubuntu is a PC operating system, not one for mobile devices like an tablet.

  10. 0me9a says:

    Great points but I will have to respectfully disagree. As many have said already, Linux’s low system req. will make Ubuntu a big competitor. As the iPad and Android products flood the market (love Android, yeah FOSS) the customer base is undergoing a change of mindset. The current tablet market is based on a model that forces users to get away from the traditional PC/Apple hardware+PC/Apple software = Computer model and adapt to a “market place” concept. This change in mindset will allow users to possibly accept a full blow Linux platform and tackle any learning curve associated with Linux and open source, not unlike Androids explosion on the scene. to boot, the openness of FOSS and Linux will allow users to run conventional applications even while supporting the multi-touch and 3g/4g capabilities of these new generation tablets. I’m excited at the thought!

  11. bigelow says:

    I like the unubutu tablet idea and products if any!

    One most import unique of unbuntu vs ipad and anything else is that it has xterm (i think it should have at least) so that i can have a chase to learn and develop my C skill in a very simple straight manner.

  12. jeroen says:

    My wife had a laptop with winXP on it. She uses it for internet and email. Do some webshopping and watch some youtube etc. Windows broke down. Ubuntu 10.4 runs like a charm on this machine with only 500 Mb and 20 gig HD. She’s happy, and so am I. A tablet with ubuntu would even be nicer. You could surf even in a car or bed. A laptop isn’t really nice in bed or in a car.
    But when running ubuntu other nice apps come into view. I would like stellarium to run on my tablet. In ubuntu it works. And best of all. ubuntu apps are free!

  13. Abreu says:

    They don’t need a new operating system for tablets, just a new interface. The thing that I love about Ubuntu is that I can completey control what is executed and I can configure the system to my needs. Most of the software I need is on the Software Center for free. For sure the kind of applications you need to run on a tablet are available for free.
    Honestly the only advantage I see in using an Apple product is battery life. Ok its better, but its not going to be double.
    Maybe it wouldn’t sell but that’s because most people dont use linux.

  14. RYAN says:

    This was obviously written by an Apple Lover…

  15. tcsian says:

    I would buy an ubuntu tablet for that price. Guess the most important factor in the so called smart-tablet is still the net and net….games and ebook readings come secondary.

  16. T.de Groot says:

    16 december 2010
    An Ubuntu tablet wil sell, and even be cheaper than a ipad
    and offer a lot more for less money
    Ubuntu 10.10 now runs excelent on a tablet with a touch screen
    look at http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/?p=2691
    The Lenovo S10-t3 is a mixture between a tablet and a netbook.
    You will have all the advantages of Ubuntu 10.10 and a 250 Mb harddrive it wil run flash and it wil do things an ipad can’t
    Lenovo provides drivers and everything neccesary look here
    Sorry to say you are verry wrong, Ubuntu will be booming.

  17. Takalani Radali says:

    I think the analogy that scaling down a linux OS will result in many applications not working is a bit flawed. Granted many linux projects are now stubbed but those have a tendency of falling of the popularity band wagon anyway.

    if my understanding serves me right, if the hardware is developed to match i386 or any standard architecture, ubuntu should run quite successfully. And if it doesn’t, one could quickly custom make a Gentoo based OS for their hardware.

  18. terrymac says:

    I’d buy an Ubuntu tablet over an iPad. I’ve used Windows, OS X, and Linux — and of the three, I am far happier with Linux, warts and all, primarily because the open-source nature permits it to constantly improve. It doesn’t bother me that some apps are junk – what matters is that some are great.

    Apple and Microsoft, by trying to control every aspect of the ecosystem, prevent the growth of some of those great apps. They do not try as hard to “play well with others” as Linux does.

  19. Kai69 says:

    So Ubuntu will not work on tablets because Apple says so !! This is the reason Ive never liked Apple or it products it uses Unix and open source software then locks in the OS so it can strangle hold the user into only using Apple products.
    I notice that Windows 7 will be on tablets but nothing is said against it!! Then again THE biggest app market is Android and its getting bigger all the time maybe because most people in the world dont or wont pay over the odds for overpriced Apple products..
    Give ubuntu and Linux a chance for a change, its the most stable user friendly OS Ive ever used,
    Ive used windows from Xp to 7 and it always starts playing up after a few months ,slowdowns/ viruses /malware , I switched to Linux and all the problems went away its stable starts and shuts down faster uses less resources and doesnt get viruses and its very easy to use..

  20. Jordon Rewa says:

    Wow your a idiot. PERIOD. This tablet OS will do amazing. Why is going in a different direction wrong?

    Some people love the fact that apple is in control of there device but some people enjoy being able to do whatever they want on the DEVICE they purchased and not be told how and what you can do with it, ie: apple.

  21. Ongytenes says:

    As I read this I got to wondering, who wrote this? It is very obvious this person is bias.

    So I don’t believe it. If the tablet isn’t overpriced, but an economical competition to the I-pad, word of mouth and advertising will help sell it. What do people want to do with a pad anyway? Mostly surfing the web. People are not normally going to want to use it for labor intensive stuff. They want something that is convenient, and don’t require a lot of cords, or place to set up. Example, a passenger decides to look up a contact info can do so without the hassle of a laptop. And I know the argument of “Just use a smartphone”. Not everyone wants a smartphone. I have trouble reading the small screen and I don’t want to be forced into a contract for another Internet service. I do fine with wifi hotspots.

  22. GJohnson says:

    What a joke. This guy clearly doesn’t understand Linux or Ubuntu at all. Stick with Apple products guy and don’t bother talking about anything else, you’re just wasting other people’s time with nonsense like this.

  23. Dexter Smith says:

    I would buy and Ubuntu tablet, but I would like for it to be in retail stores but if you can only buy it online then that still will not be a problem for me. I love Ubuntu and Canonical and I plan to support them any way that I can and yes that defiantly means financially too.

  24. David says:

    i dont thing the author of this artical has ever had any experience with technology outside of an electric pencil sharpener.

    Well i really needent say anything. everyone on here has summed it up completly and i agree that the ubuntu tab would indeed sell.

  25. Daniel says:

    WOW, I just got done reading and was going to speak on how it is very easy to change and improve the Touch friendly-ness of a desktop app and have it run just fine. But it seems like the entire Linux community jumped in and overwhelmed this posting! lol This is why I love Linux. everyone working with the same mind set to a particular goal without even knowing that we are doing it. :-) I have noticed that in just the past year Ubuntu has grown almost exponentially in popularity and recognition.

    And I have no doubt that this is due to Android putting Linux on the map as they say and getting people interested in it. 😀 Can’t wait to see this come out. I am looking to buy a Notion Ink Adam Tablet (maybe 3g model) and they have stated before that they have made it easy to install another OS if you wish to do so. And if Ubuntu makes this work and work well, I would definitely be looking into it putting this on it. Especially if it would support Dual Booting 😀

  26. Gabriel says:

    I recently bought an Android net book and was disappointed with the applications and web performance. Websites thought it was a phone!!! So I was redirected to the mobile sites. The productivity apps left much to be desired and were very limited in scope. I took it back to the store. Now, an Ubuntu tablet would be a godsend for me. The Ubuntu Software Center is getting a bunch of new and interesting software and it is all free. Ubuntu has reached a level of user friendliness that it did not have two versions ago. It is nearing perfection and the beauty of the interface is really something. If I get a pad where I can do all I do in my desktop with Ubuntu, and it has multi-touch plus compatibility with external wireless keyboards, GPS and integrated Bluetooth, I would shell out my cash without a second thought.

  27. Scott Deagan says:

    I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing a Ubuntu tablet (even if it cost twice more than anything on the market today). I would also purchase a Ubuntu mobile phone if one was available… Ubuntu is just so beautiful.

    Ubuntu rocks my world, and I will continue to support them (Canonical) in any way I can :).

  28. JaseP says:

    I already use Ubuntu in a tablet form factor. I have a Gigabyte M912m touchscreen net book, and have configured it with Compiz for 3D effects and use it to take notes at work and schedule my day, etc. It blows away anything an iPad can do…

    If you need any proof, check out the Tenq P07 coming out in the next few month.

  29. Scott Deagan says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGlPvnW6mgU <– that's what happens when you do it right :)

  30. Ron Albury says:

    I think an Ubuntu Tablet is a great idea. I am developing tablet applications for business (I believe that the business community will eventually be the largest purchaser of tablets) and was at first excited about Android … until I started developing on it. Android is an awful system with tons of crazy limitations and bizarre implementations. Combine that with the fact that Google was only tap-dancing with Android until it could complete Chrome-OS.

    I would LOVE a Linux tablet!!!

  31. Les says:

    The guy who wrote this article must be an apple fan, because he is an idiot. The iphone has been a problem since its origin. The ipad is good, but no more impressive than the Linux version. If anyone can do it it is Ubuntu. It is as rock solid as apple, if not more. And the best part is that Ubuntu is less commercialized than apple which means it will make a great competitor. Apple days are short coming just like ms. How blind do you have to be to see that. I guess like the author of this article. I would love to see Ubuntu make tremendous benchmarks in the computer industry just to shut up ms and apple once and for all.

  32. D G says:

    I disagree with point 3. The 140.000 applications that the ipad has are not developed by Apple, actually Apple does not authorize to install those applications; those apps are installed after a jailbreak to the ipad. So if Apple has succeeded with 3rd party applications, ubuntu will have more advantages; remember that Ubuntu is FOSS

  33. Nikola Krastev says:

    I have heard exactly the same arguments against Rockbox for Ipod and EEEbuntu when they were about to be released.

    The main drawback of the Ipad is the OS. It is in the stone age compared to any modern OS (no multitasking?! no flash, no air, completely closed to the outside world in terms of external devices and different OS apps and so on).

    On the other hand Ubuntu has the package manager which is not only easier to use, lighter to run and just as secure as the app store, but completely free and with MUCH bigger amount apps available.

    Ubuntu comes with Wine emulator of Windows and even Dosbox to play one’s favorite games.

    It is also much easier to customize Ubuntu with themes, completely different, graphical interfaces, level of visual effects and advanced customizations such as shell scripts.

  34. sean says:

    Ubuntu is a great OS, but is simply not an efficient platform for a tablet. Android is still a Linux OS, and is much better suited to tablets than Ubuntu. Android 3.0 Honeycomb is a wonderful, polished system, designed specifically for tablets. Keep Ubuntu on your laptop or desktop, where it can serve you best, and stick with Android on your tablets… You’ll have fewer headaches and more time to enjoy your devices.

  35. Lucky says:

    I want a Ubuntu tablet, and that is the reason why I found this article when I was searching to buy one. I agree with every one else. I want a Ubuntu tablet so that I it can have all the features of my pc unlike apple or android. I do like Android too on my phone, but you can’t multi-task with Apple or Android. You can’t do school work with them, because they are so limited. I wan’t all the free software that Ubuntu comes with as long as they work. Plus, it be nice if there was a navigation, and both 3g and Wifi Internet worked on it. Google dosen’t make the hardware for every phone, and yet they still do a good job. People make their hardware compatible with Android The author of this report has some points, but I want a Ubuntu tablet.

    • SamHoratio says:

      1. I doubt if this is a report at all. Where’s the basis.
      2. He does have some points but non of them seem to be valid.

  36. darren says:

    open source is free.
    if i have a tablet or any other pc and i go to ubuntu then the problems explained in artile are irrelevant.
    if some software doesnt work its not like it cost me $100 to find out and im sure there are enough people out there still developing for linux.
    but if i buy windows or apple then i dont want these problems because its costly.

    apples and oranges people.
    if you use windows then use windows, if you use apple then use apple.
    and if you use ubuntu its coz you have brains and want to save money.

  37. Jake b says:

    I have many Ubuntu PC’s myself It’s stable and makes computers fun again I’d happily buy an affordable tablet with Ubuntu as the OS

  38. Bill H says:

    I would buy an Ubuntu tablet over an iPad or an Android tablet in a New York minute. Apple is overpriced and Android is under developed. A reasonably priced Ubuntu tablet with good hardware specs and a good basic software package would sell like ice cream on a hot day.

  39. nick says:

    The open is an idiot.

    Google is only a software company based on Linux, and they like Ubuntu can’t sell their tablets….oh wait….I mean they are out competing Mac despite having little hardware control. Dumbass.

    If we were talking phones then form factor might matter, but on ten inch laptops you will get 100% compatibility. Why wouldn’t you?

    Ubuntu is now a household name.

    Unity now has full touch interface as does gnome shell and even enlightenment 17.

    I would much rather have a gnu Linux tablet than a crappy I pad with no flash suport., even if they were priced the same.

  40. nick says:

    The op ……android spell check sucks. Ubuntu spell check is awesome.

  41. jade says:

    this guy doesn’t have a clue. Just look at androids success and google doesnt make the hardware. An ubuntu tablet would be like an android tablet. they dont need control of everything to have a great product. this guy is full of crap.

  42. Andrew says:

    All the points in the article are simply wrong:
    1. Canonical is only a software company: an Microsoft is … what? Microsoft and the Linux groups still rule the computing world because they don’t box in the user the way Apple does.
    When a company releases a tablet (or whatever computer system), they do make sure the OS and the hardware play nice together, regardless whom the company is, who made the OS or the hardware. This has nothing to do with Canonical. See Android by Google? Only a software company, but so many implementations and concepts the work!

    2. They’re scaling down: yes, that’s the main advantage of Canonical. If I have a tool on my PC, I want it also on my tablet, adapted, without paying another premium to get the same tool. What is the building-up of Apple? Yet another system, with different architecture, different apps? (sure, you call it building-up because the iPhone was first, but it could’ve well been the tablet first and iPhone later, what would you call it then?)
    Sure, there are no guarantees about third-party apps, but then again it’s the same freedom we had on the PC: try this, it works, no? It’s the third-party company’s fault (or not if they don’t target a platform or another). Trial and error, there’s nothing wrong with it.

    3. Where are the applications? same point, they are everywhere. It’s not like the fact that an app or another is in Google Market or Apple AppStore is a guarantee of quality. There are plenty of apps that break down, malware, unsupported or plainly abandoned. It’s still up to the user to discriminate and that’s a good thing. I don’t want Apple or Google to think for me.

    4. Canonical who?
    So what if Canonical isn’t as recognized as Apple? There was a time when Apple wasn’t recognized and Jobs had to fight hard to sell even one computer. The fact that back then he could barely sell meant nothing, it meant that he had to try harder than IBM. Likewise, Canonical might run into walls, but they will only have to try harder than Apple.

  43. steve says:

    I will not purchase a tablet until I see one for sale either already running Ubuntu or at least android 3.x and which will be easily convertible to Ubuntu.

    2 common forms of Tablet Insanity – 1. continuing to purchase closed source OS based devices 2. continuing to believe closed source OS based device vendor propaganda

  44. SamHoratio says:

    This article has the weakest arguments for why Cannonical won’t succeed with deploying Ubuntu in tablets. I guess that’s expected; because there isn’t any good reason why Ubuntu won’t suit tablets. Even without doing much work to reinvent Ubuntu for tablet PCs, it is easy to see how Ubuntu Netwook Edition would sell just fine on tablets.

    It seems to me that whoever wrote this article needs to take a closer look at how open source platforms work mainly because s/he thinks that iOS, Android or WebOS are better situated to provide apps for tablets than Ubuntu. P.S: I would hesitate to cal a handful lines of generic code selling for $5.00 an app.

  45. SamHoratio says:

    What is the advantage of building up as opposed to scaling down?
    More to the point, how is taking a full-fledged Ubuntu and stripping it down a bit to fit a 10″ touch-screened tablet more difficult or unattainable than taking iPod and iPhone OS and applications and trying making them fit the the aforementioned device?
    Isn’t it quite the opposite?
    Why should a 10″ tablet be treated fundamentally differently from a laptop or desktop with touch screen and on-screen keyboard? Is it because you’re thinking only of the proper input/output-lacking iPad?
    When was the last time Steve Jobs had a good advice on how to distribute or popularise an open source OS?
    In what bizarre world is iOS a better OS than the Linux-Kernelled Gnome/Unity/LXDE/XFCE/KDE/Enlightenment-flavoured Debian-born open source OS Ubuntu?
    Is locking software and hardware considered an advantage these days? Is implementing crippling highly non-customisable software on proprietary closed boxes considered an achievement?

  46. A Reader says:

    “Why an Ubuntu Tablet Won’t Sell”

    The same reasoning could have produced “Why a car won’t sell”… engine from one manufacturer, gearbox from another, bodywork from another. But cars do sell, don’t they?

    Apple is a repackaging company with a brand name that lets it add a huge markup to the minority that are followers.

    The resuscitated tablet market (tablets have been around for years, but the hardware has only recently provided enough power at low enough price and OSes that use it well have started to respond) will produce a variety of options.

    Apple’s ‘control-everything-and-pay-lots-for-shiny-plastic’ approach relegated it to ~5% of the desktop / laptop market, while Bill Gates became the richest man in the world for about 15 years on the back of the 90% of PCs running Windows.

    It looks as if Apple is repeating its obsession for control. It’s made a very quick start, but has already been overtaken in the smartphone market by the more open Android. It has also taken on a dangerous game with taking a large cut from everything that runs on it (30%) without adding corresponding value. The publishing industry is already starting to rebel (see FT and other major newspapers first responses to Apple-only-apps).

    Ubuntu can be many things to many people. I run web servers on it and have gradually converted most of the desktops / laptops / netbooks I use to run it. Once you start to exploit the power and reliability Windows and Macs start to feel like frustratingly poor alternatives. The only use I retain for Windows is an XP system to run Photoshop.

    Linux isn’t for everyone (dittos other Unixes). It’s so widely used, though, ‘under the covers’ – from web servers to car engine management systems to network devices – that it is far more stable than Windows or Macs.

    When the hardware is good enough I look forward to running Linux on a tablet. At the moment, none of them, from the iPad up to the best Android devices, is quite as good as I’d want, but they’re getting close. Over the next couple of years they’ll be much better and significantly cheaper. Still pretty poor for keyboard use, but that’s the price for portability. Best kept mainly for information consumption rather than production.

  47. Kostis Kagiabakis says:

    Who wrote this article anyway???
    Is he afraid to state himself???
    Or he is just another marketing trick – going against linux???
    By the way i have seen a bunch of this kind of articles and i think that from a high aspect this shows that the market is afraid. If linux devices succeed, the market will change and become much more free and then they will have to lower their prices and be more convertible and user friendly to compete linux, wich will lower the income of money (like more free apps instead of paid or torrent clients on tablets wich will be a disaster for the market)

  48. Justin says:

    I am a computer tech and I have been so since DOS. I can clearly say that Ubuntu Tablets will be dynamite. It’s only a matter of time before open source takes over (Look at the success of Firefox and Chrome. Also, the rising success of Android) I posted on here last year. Please do not delete my post again.

  49. Edward Meeker says:

    I am ready to buy this sucker, and once there is a version to run on my current tablet, I will convert it. I currenly have a laptop where I almost never run anything but Kubuntu. With this experience, I suspect that the statements above indicate that the author has no real familarity with it or Ubuntu. Most applications run very well and I have not speant a fortune to run any of them. The Ubuntu spoken of is really one from years ago. The last install was completely seemless and works better, faster and cheaper than any OS produced by either Apple or Microsoft. I’ve been able to revive a couple of older machines, that now run as well as new. As far as applications go, my experience in using any system, tells me that bad applications are everywhere. I know the first version may be a little rough, but has anyone noticed that both the Android and Apple tablets are still running what are basically phone apps or how many of these apps are just junk?

  50. Steve says:

    Well, to be honest, I think Ubuntu is going the wrong direction, here…

    Not that it isn’t going to be necessary to build a system that will work equally well by touch as by mouse (that *is* important), but that all of their decisions on how to do so have been wrong.

    Unity takes up far more system resources than Gnome desktop does, and given that you will be running Unity on a far slower processor, this makes no sense… in addition, by trying to be a little of both, I believe that Unity fails at either.

    Personally, I find Windows8 far more in line with how I would expect something like this to work directly… so you can use one system with whichever interface worked at the moment that you were interacting with it.

    Luckily, Microsoft also decided to make Metro extremely ugly and almost completely uncustomizable. This allows for a developer to be inspired by the nature of their design, and yet end up with a far better (and linux based) product).


  1. Why an Ubuntu Tablet Won’t Sell | Ubuntu-News - Your one stop for news about Ubuntu - 17. Jun, 2010

    […] successes and failures. Here are four reasons why an Ubuntu tablet simply won’t work More here 1.Canoncial is only a software company One of the reasons Apple has been so successful with their […]

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  3. AtRandom » Blog Archive » Podcast Episode 02 - 01. Apr, 2011

    […] Ubuntu for Tablet PCs Coming Soon, Ubuntu at CES, Why the Ubuntu tablet won’t sell. […]

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