Linux tablets, where are you?

Analysis: It's time for Linux-powered smartphones, tablets and devices to give users top-notch alternatives to Apple.

Apple has long had a history of being arrogant. But, more often than not, they've been able to back it up by the quality of their products. But now, with Apple locking out Adobe Flash and Google Ads, not to mention their cute trick of setting up an HTML 5 demo site that only works with Apple's own Safari Web browser, I think Apple has overstepped their authority. It's time for Linux-powered smartphones, tablets and devices to give users top-notch alternatives to Apple's offerings.

Linux, largely thanks to Google Android, has already made progress that way in smartphones. Indeed, even hardcore iPhone users are now thinking about switching to Android phones. There's also a wave of Linux-powered tablets and would-be iPad rivals on their way. But they're not here yet.

While I think that these new Linux devices will do well, I also think they need to be more than just tablets that are cheaper and more open than iPads. As Jim Zemlin, the head of the Linux Foundation, wrote in BusinessWeek, "It's important that open-source products add more value for users than simply being free. Open-source software also needs to be fabulous."

Exactly.

Zemlin went on to write, "Providing a good user experience isn't paramount under the white lights of the data center. In consumer electronics, it's a different story. Mobile Linux vendors must increase their technical investments by working on key open-source projects to make every component used in Linux devices benefit the user experience. That includes making devices boot up faster, connect better, and display graphics more smoothly."

That's why I'm encouraged by such moves as Google's Android team working more closely with the mainstream Linux developers. I'm also really pleased to see that Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu Linux possible, is now working on enabling touch in Ubuntu, which would make it ideal for tablets.

If any Linux company comes close to appreciating Apple's appeal to average users with its focus on making the interface a pleasure to use, it's Canonical. After all, it was Canonical's founder and Ubuntu's guiding light, Mark Shuttleworth, who said Ubuntu's goal was to deliver "a user experience that can compete with Apple in two years."

Shuttleworth was talking about the desktop. Today, it's all about competing on devices. The day of the PC is fading into the afternoon. With Apple making enemies of one-time partners and closing its software circle ever tighter, now is the time for Linux not only to push forward with its historical advantages of lower prices and open software and standards, but to show the world that Linux devices can be every bit as attractive and user-friendly as its Apple competition.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesLinuxtablet PCs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?