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Appeared on: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
bq and Meizu to Ship First Ubuntu Phones

The first smartphones based on a mobile version of Canonical's Ubuntu operating system will be launched this year, the company's CEO said Wednesday.

Canonical has signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers bq (Spain) and Meizu (China) to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers globally on the latest hardware in 2014. The devices will be available to buy online through bq, Meizu and at Ubuntu.com.

Samples of both phones will be on show at next week's Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona.

Ubuntu introduces a new UI paradigm for mobile devices, putting content and services at the center of the experience, rather than hiding them behind stores and apps. It also gives OEMs and operators customization opportunities with a common UI toolkit.

Canonical will also focus on growing the number of apps available for the Ubuntu phone platform. Lack of major apps has been problem for both Microsoft and BlackBerry, and Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, said he wants to have "the top 50 apps from Android and iOS when we launch these devices."

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu has over 1,000 employees, 600 retail stores and a global presence in China, Hong Kong, Israel, Russia and Ukraine. In January, the company announced its strategy to expand into other international markets as well as to ship phones in America later in 2014 and Ubuntu will be a key part of this expansion.

bq is a manufacturer of multimedia devices operating in Europe and employing 600 people. In 2013, the company shipped almost 1.5 million devices and in less than a year has become the Spain's second biggest seller of unlocked smartphones. bq will bring Ubuntu onto its latest hardware specifications.

"The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all," said Shuttleworth.

Carriers that Canonical has engaged with have also shown their support for Ubuntu and an alternative operating system for the mobile market. To date, Ubuntu's Carrier Advisory Group has 16 members including Vodafone, EE, T-Mobile USA, Three Group, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, Telstra and Portugal Telecom.

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