South African internet billionaire and founder of the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system, Mark Shuttleworth is prepared to release Ubuntu operating system for Smartphones by 2014.

Shuttleworth plan to venture into the increasingly competitive Smartphone industry that already features the likes of Blackberry and Apple, by supplying operating systems that will allow certain cellphones to double as PCs when connected to a monitor and dock.

According to Canonical, the London-based company behind Ubuntu, this will allow handset makers drive sales of multicore phones with faster processors, more RAM and high-end graphics; target lucrative markets for thin clients in the business space while offering accessories such as docks, cables, keyboards and displays.

The company claims the software will run on even the “leanest” Smartphones, with as little as 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor; Web apps based on HTML5 and native apps developed for the platform using its software development kit.

However, the South African billionaire said he is not budged by the prospective challenge that may arise along the way. “We’re sanguine about the challenges that we face, but we know this is an industry that turns itself over every couple years, ” Shuttleworth said.

He pointed out that Ubuntu is still the most popular distribution of Linux for the desktop.

“We are the only Linux distribution that has a full pipeline for developing applications and publishing them to an app store,” he said.

The company plans to use the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which takes place this week, to showcase the software and talk to potential hardware and operator partners and software developers.

Canonical estimated that more than 20-million PCs already use Ubuntu Linux. It hopes that about 10 percent of the world’s new desktops and laptops will be shipped with Ubuntu next year.

“We are confident that Ubuntu will ship on phones from large manufacturers in 2013,” says Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth created Ubuntu after spending $20 million on a trip into space; becoming the first African tourist in space.

In March 2004 he formed Canonical to promote and commercially support free software projects.

He had earlier sold his Cape Town-based start-up Thawte Consulting, which provided digital certificates for websites, to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999 before creating emerging-market investment group HBD Venture Capital in year 2000.


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