What’s going on at Canonical?

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With the imminent release of Ubuntu 14.04 and Ubuntu Phone set to launch later this year, Canonical announces it’s plan to discontinue key media and cloud syncing pieces.  What’s going on?

I have to say, I find the timing to be unnerving at best.  It’s good when a company knows when to discontinue a failed experiment, but to back away from cloud storage and media stores on the eve of what should be a bigger push into the consumer space makes me question whether or not Canonical has the resources and resolve to make Ubuntu Phone a success.

In my opinion, Canonical has done more for desktop Linux than any other company. Their efforts have essentially standardized the Linux desktop space, and have paved the way for top-tier relationships with vendors such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo. This, in turn, is why we’re now seeing gaming companies such as Valve bringing their Debian-based products like SteamOS to market.

I believe that Canonical has done as much business development for Linux as Red Hat has done infrastructure coding for the platform.  Thanks to these efforts, Linux is the de facto standard in most aspects of contemporary computing. From cell phones to servers, “the cloud” to routers and cars, Linux is making major inroads on all fronts. Yet despite this success, Canonical seems to be a bit… stuck at the moment.

There’s no doubt that they have a successful and very valuable platform, but with their foray into set top boxes, then cloud storage, music stores, phones, tablets, a replacement X11 server, and Unity, one wonders if they haven’t spread themselves too thin.

They had assembled all of the pieces of the puzzle to be a presence in all aspects of computing, but cloud storage and a strong media offering are key components of modern computing. Apple has iCloud, Google has Play and Drive, Microsoft has Xbox and One Drive, Ubuntu had UbuntuOne.

Had the cancellation of UbuntuOne coincided with announcements of partnerships on media with Amazon and storage with Dropbox, Spider Oak, or even OwnCloud, that would have been something. As it stands now, they’ve dropped key consumer features just as they were starting to build trust and products that would truly need them. With Ubuntu approaching it’s ten year anniversary, I’m more than a little worried that this shift may be an indicator of more trouble to come. I hope that this isn’t the case. Linux needs strong and innovative leadership to continue to thrive. To date, Canonical has provided this leadership, taking Linux in new and important directions.

GoSaBe Blog - Apr 8, 2014 | Linux