Shuttleworth: Apple will converge Mac and iPhone

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth

Ubuntu boss predicts desktop computing and smartphones will merge into a single platform

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth claims Apple will follow Ubuntu's lead and converge the iPhone and MacBook product lines.

Speaking to PC Pro to mark the launch of Ubuntu 13.10, Shuttleworth said that the failed Ubuntu Edge smartphone - an attempt to bridge mobile and desktop computing devices - had set an example that others will follow.

"I was very, very disappointed that we weren’t able to turn it [Ubuntu Edge] into reality," said Shuttleworth of the Ubuntu Edge project, which was scrapped after falling a long way short of its crowdfunding target. "But I was blown away by the level of support that we did achieve."

Apple was sending what we think is a very clear signal that it will converge the iPhone and the MacBook Air

"We’ve seen a very interested ripple go through the industry, and an uptick in interest in convergence," Shuttleworth added. "People are saying yes, mobile processors are catching up with the desktop. When Apple announced the iPhone 5s, it called the processor 'desktop-class', and I don’t think that was an accident – it was sending what we think is a very clear signal that it will converge the iPhone and the MacBook Air.

"There’s no point talking about the desktop performance of your CPU unless you plan to make a desktop device with that CPU."

Ubuntu is itself attempting to merge the different strands of its operating system - desktop, tablet, phone and television - into one codebase. He claimed that converged OS could arrive as early as next year, "in 14.10 or 15.04", and added that: "we believe we’ll be able to deliver that before Microsoft is fully able to converge Windows on mobile and PC."

New in Ubuntu 13.10

The forthcoming Ubuntu 13.10 release goes live on 17 October. For desktop users, new features include "Smart Scopes" that make it possible to search online resources directly from the Dash, as well as updates to the graphics subsystem aimed at improving performance.

The Server edition of the software, meanwhile, aims to make cloud computing more accessible than ever, and accelerate the provisioning of virtual machines.

"We’ve put a tremendous amount of work into the ability to express almost pictorially the infrastructure you want to create," explained Shuttleworth. "A lot of our work in the last couple of years has gone into making it possible to spin up very complex workloads in the cloud as fast as you can get the underlying machines."

"This release also brings two really big capabilities to the orchestration tool, Juju. One is that it lets you subdivide virtual machines, so that you can get even more dense configurations.

"The other is that it works now in the Microsoft cloud as well. Azure looks set to emerge as the main competition to Amazon on public cloud, with OpenStack being the preferred platform for private cloud applications - and Juju works across all three of those environments."

You can read the full interview with Mark Shuttleworth in issue 231 of PC Pro, on sale 14 November

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