Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis by Simon Raffeiner



  • Simon Raffeiner has published today an interesting reflection:

    "My Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis"
    http://www.lieberbiber.de/2017/06/20/my-ubuntu-for-mobile-devices-post-mortem/

    If you don't know about his involvement:

    To recapitulate my involvement in the project: I had been using Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7 on an on-and-off-basis between its announcement in 2013 and December 2014, started working on Click apps in December 2014, started writing the 15-part “Hacking Ubuntu Touch” blog post series about system internals in January 2015, became an Ubuntu Phone Insider, got a Meizu MX4 from Canonical, organized and sponsored the UbuContest app development contest, worked on bug reports and apps until about April 2016, and then sold off/converted all my remaining devices in mid-2016. So I think I can offer some thoughts about the project, its challenges and where we could have done better.

    What do you think? Is he right about why Ubuntu for mobile devices failed? What are the lessons we must extract for UBports?



  • I agree with mostly all his considerations. I only have a few notes.

    Convergence it's not a profitable niche

    Canonical did several attempts with convergence:

    • Ubuntu for Android (2012) - Sadly, got no interest from OEMs. It was an interesting project, perhaps it came too early. It was almost ready for the market[1] and we have better devices now. I hope to see it soon with Ubuntu GNOME :P
    • Ubuntu Edge - Didn't get funded. ~$13m vs $32m goal
    • Ubuntu Touch - I don't know how it was meant to be monetized, but we can say for sure that convergence is still a secondary/tertiary feature (only Lumia 950 and Galaxy S8 ship it).

    I see Simon mentions a niche made by "all the hackers, tinkerers and people who were fed up with Google, Microsoft and the NSA snooping on them".
    Canonical have been accused of spying on people through the Unity Dash or the Amazon web app multiple times. I don't think this was a viable option for them.

    I believe convergence was the only way for them to hit the phone market. But reinventing the wheel using a custom stack didn't help in any way.

    "Communication and marketing were rather chaotic and sometimes misleading."

    Canonical promoted a lot their idea of a convergent phone. However:

    The HDMI output needed for Convergence was missing on all official phones, and Miracast/Aethercast was not an equivalent solution.

    I see the recent topics on this forum and all the answers we gave. I believe we're still running the misconceptions we've built during this time.

    most people silently assumed to be able to run the same applications as on the desktop (Firefox, SIP clients etc.) and manage the phone with apt-get

    That's surely one of the misconceptions.

    Other reasons are the lack of apps and the need of more privacy.
    I see we're all asking for Firefox and Libreoffice. I believe we only want a solution for these two unmet requests, and we took those apps as a symbol of productivity and privacy-awareness. The propaganda about convergence[2] did the rest - after all Firefox and LO are the apps we run on our machines everyday.

    "It wasn’t as open and community-driven as intended."

    For me it's a thumb up. I've had/seen similar experiences.

    "You left in mid-2016, long before the project was shut down. Why?"

    I also left the core-apps dev team in the same period. It's the moment when Canonical shut down almost all the efforts on UT.

    Lessons we need to learn: 1) we should not reinvent the wheel but use well-accepted technologies instead; 2) we need to address the real issues in the Ubuntu Touch OS :)

    ===

    [1] http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/ubuntu-for-android-is-no-longer-under-active-development-canonical-516996
    [2] And being saying that Ubuntu and Ubuntu Touch are the same OS



  • @sverzegnassi, yep I agree with your conclusion.

    • Not reinvent the wheel. That's a fact. It seems even Canonical has learned the lesson.
    • Address the real issues. I hope there'll be a consensus in which are those issues.




  • First, super nice article. I think we should realy think about it and try no to make the same mistake.
    Second, for the question that was ask on this forum about the perfect device I think this article bring many important aspect.

    1. It didn’t target a profitable niche.
    Nothing to do about it?

    2. The user experience was bad and priorities skewed.
    I never had a device that I liked so much to use.
    But yeah for the glitche part I can undersand and I never recomened this device for someone who need a reliable device.
    I also agree with the scoop part. Kind of a lot a work that seems to have gone nowhere, specialy for the desktop part.

    3. The devices were hard to get and didn’t deliver
    I'm a linux fan. I don't care about flashing my device. But for general public rooting devices is the root of all evil. So yeah I agree with this part. But I think it's okay for UBports not to focus this righ now.

    5. There was too much focus on technical features the users and app developers didn’t care about.
    I agree. But to my knowledge we are "switching" mir for wayland and thinking of a solution for background app so: Good job guys on this one!

    6. The life of an app developer was too hard.
    Yes!! and still is! I mean, I get that QQC1 was not a good solution back then. But now it should change and please don't make an obsure solution like Conanical did. Where you need a special IDE, a special UITK and weird build system.
    That being say, for now I don't feel like the app dev is left aside, I feel more like it's usless to focus on it if the platform is not stable enough. But when it will be the time please just make QQC2 with a style.

    7. It wasn’t as open and community-driven as intended.
    For this point I have to give a huge tumbs up to the UBports community. I think we've hit the right spot! If their is one good thing that we got out of Conanical droping the project, it's that now it's a true community-driven project!

    Over all event if it's sad Conanical is gone with all the budget and man power, I still think the "new" direction this project is taking is WAY better!



  • @advocatux said in Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis by Simon Raffeiner:

    @sverzegnassi, yep I agree with your conclusion.

    Not reinvent the wheel. That's a fact. It seems even Canonical has learned the lesson.

    I'm a bit disappointed for the consequences for the people who worked on the project, but returning to GNOME is the wisest decision they could take.

    Address the real issues. I hope there'll be a consensus in which are those issues.

    That could easily go controversial. I would only ask if it's better to have a phone with a smooth experience, or a phone that converges to desktop, at first. In any case I think that supporting xdg-desktop-portal should be a priority (it seems Snap is going to support such Flatpak specification as well). But we are a bit OT here



  • @sverzegnassi said in Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis by Simon Raffeiner:

    I'm a bit disappointed for the consequences for the people who worked on the project, but returning to GNOME is the wisest decision they could take.

    Well, my opinion is, that the Unity desktop was a great thing and for me the best desktop experience ever. The main problem was, that it was dictated by Canonical and not by the community. That's why a lot of people get pissed off, not to be asked about their opinion. Additionally it was Ubuntu only it was not available on other distributions.
    I am sure, now that it is a open source community driven project, it will become successful, even on other linux distributions.

    But I think also, that Gnome will now include a lot of things in their desktop, coming from Unity.
    Especially, that you will have borderless maximized windows, without title bar and regular windows without extra menu bar.
    No other desktop can give you that much usable space on your desktop like Unity.
    Everytime I am using Gnome on my computer, I am very shocked, how small the usable desktop is and why wasting space for fat title bars and extra menu bars?

    Time will come and Gnome will also convert to that desktop style, to have a better usability.
    But then it's not a Canonical thing anymore, it's community driven to have that style.



  • @sverzegnassi said in Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis by Simon Raffeiner:

    I would only ask if it's better to have a phone with a smooth experience, or a phone that converges to desktop, at first.

    That's right, first a fully functional phone. Better go step by step.

    Besides there isn't good hardware available for true convergence, at least for now.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to UBports Forum was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.