The first Ubuntu-powered device from Chinese vendor Meizu is set for a European launch this week, accompanied by an unusual launch invitation process.
From Thursday, Meizu’s website will feature an “interactive origami wall”, which will feature “fun and interesting glimpses of the Meizu Ubuntu phone along with a number of invitations which will be randomly generated on a daily basis”.
Speaking ahead of the Meizu MX4 launch, Cristian Parrino, VP Mobile for Ubuntu-creators Canonical, said there were several reasons for this approach. “First of all, education, we want to make sure the right people are buying it for the right reasons; secondly to build some momentum; and third, to manage our inventory to make sure we bring our partners into a calculated risk mechanism.”
While he would not be drawn on what this actually meant in numbers, he said that there will be “enough where most people who go will be able to get an invite, and those who can’t will certainly get lucky the second-time around”.
As with the earlier Ubuntu devices, from vendor BQ, the intention is not to go for the mass market. “In this phase of the journey, Ubuntu Phone is a device for enthusiasts, so that’s who we are going to focus on. There has been strong progress both in terms of product and ecosystem maturity since we launched the first phone in February,” Parrino said.
When questioned over the success of the earlier devices – BQ’s Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition and the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition – the executive said: “We’re not going to focus on sales figures, mostly because we’re not focused on market share right now. We’re selling in the many thousands, but this is not really how we measure success in this first phase.”
Instead, he continued, “we’re much more concerned with the feedback of the initial user base and particularly on the returns figure, which is the big pain point that has been afflicting some of the other platforms that have launched who focus on volume from day one.”
In terms of Ubuntu devices, the return percentage is in the “low single digits, which is incredible for the mobile space”.
Meizu’s MX4 Ubuntu Edition has already reached the market in China, where it is being aimed specifically at developers, in an effort to strengthen the Ubuntu content and services ecosystem in the country.
It has a 5.36-inch (1152×1920 pixel) screen, with 20.7 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front cameras. It is powered by a 1.7GHz quadcore processor, and has 16GB of onboard storage.
It will be priced at €299 in two colour variants – silver and gold.