Canonical: Biting Off More Than it Can Chew with Ubuntu?

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 31, 2011

Is Canonical staying focused with its Ubuntu strategy? As we've noted, Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth has made clear that he is extremely focused on business users, and specifically cloud computing. The next version of Ubuntu is to be loaded with enterprise-focused options ranging from cloud computing features to extended support. At the same time, Canonical seems to have a very Apple-like focus on tailoring the OS for consumer devices. For example, CNet reports that Canonical is pushing aggressively toward putting Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and even TVs.

According to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols:

"Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, will announce at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, FL, that they will be taking Ubuntu Linux to smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs."

Vaughan-Nichols also writes that users can expect to see the Unity interface on these new devices, which explains a lot about how Unity looks and works. It's doubtful that Canonical ever intended it as only an interface for personal computing.

Steve Jobs' biographer has confirmed that if Jobs had lived, his next technology conquest would have been smart TVs. And, of course, tablets were one of the last big Apple successes that Jobs helped steer. So Canonical appears to have a very Apple-like consumer focus at the same time that Mark Shuttleworth is pushing for enterprise and business usage of Ubuntu.

The issue for Canonical is whether it is wise to pursue both of these goals concurrently. That's certainly not the story of Apple, which built its success on appealing to consumers and, earlier, niche markets such as the educational market. 

In five years time, could Canonical be steering a ship that appeals as deftly to businesses as it does to consumers? Not many companies have pulled such a goal off, but it looks like we'll see Canonical give it a shot.