The fledgling mobile phone-oriented version of the Ubuntu platform picked up a boost today, with China Unicom signing up for the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group.
Li Xingxin of Unicom’s terminal research and support centre, said: “Ubuntu can be an exciting new platform for the Chinese market, offering a brand new user experience that balances user simplicity with operator requirements.”
Unicom, which is the second largest operator in China, has more than 250 million subscribers, according to GSMA Intelligence figures.
Ubuntu formed its Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) last month, with initial backers Deutsche Telekom, EE, Korea Telecom, Telecom Italia, LG U+, Portugal Telecom, SK Telecom and “the leading Spanish international carrier” (presumably, Telefonica).
Since then, Indonesian mobile internet player Smartfren has also signed.
Members will have access to early information about the platform and device manufacturer plans, as well as a “period of exclusivity to ship Ubuntu in their markets”.
The Ubuntu CAG is open to new members until the end of this month.
While a reasonable amount of operator support is evident for Ubuntu, as yet no device maker has publically committed to supporting the platform in commercial products.
While the dominance of Android is causing concern among some operators and vendors, due to Google’s steerage of the platform and therefore the search giant’s increasing influence in the mobile space, Ubuntu is not the only new platform looking to gain a foothold.
Last week, the first devices powered by Mozilla’s Firefox OS reached the market, with an even greater level of operator support in place and – significantly – a number of influential vendor partners in place.
Devices powered by the Tizen platform – backed by Samsung – are also expected to ship in the near future, while Jolla’s Sailfish operating system provides something of a left-field alternative.