Saturday, 9 July 2016

Is the app gap "killing" Ubuntu Phones?

You may find "killing" word a bit offensive but it's been more than a year now since Ubuntu touch has been rolled out and the number of useful day to day apps can be counted on fingers. 

Buying a phone means having a device for the communication not limited to just calls and web surfing through browser. It has grown to an area where one uses it to remain in touch with their family and friends through WhatsApp, having video chats through Skype and Hangout and other apps like a YouTube client, Social Media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, photo editing apps has become necessity.

The logic given by many for not concentrating on apps is that Canonical is working on smoothing the OS itself first and provide a better User Experience in using the Touch. But, it should remember the fate of Windows Phone. They have had a nice UI, a different and non-lagging performance running on even 512 MB of RAM and there present market share has dropped to less than 2% from 4% in last year. The only reason - app gap. And I am talking about a platform which has only "some of the apps" missing. It still had official Facebook / Messenger / Instagram apps and WhatsApp receives constant updates. It has a number of photo editing apps and games and Microsoft backed it with it's own app segment of Office, Calendars, Outlook and others. 

Canonical has done things right till now. They have been concentrating on the high end phones with nice designs and top-end hardware. The latest in the segment, Meizu MX6 Ubuntu Edition is featuring a 10-core processor and is about to be launched very soon. But from here on, Canonical should shift it's focus on delivering better apps and try to convince the big fishes like Facebook and Google to develop their apps for the Ubuntu platform. This will be hard and there can be some setbacks. No one wants to invest their time and resources for something that isn't even a part of the overall competition. 

So what if in case their isn't an official support from the companies? Develop yourself. Being open source, Canonical has the advantage of working with the development community and it just needs to push things a little. I remember until now, when Facebook introduced the Universal Instagram app for Windows 10 Mobile, there was an official app in the store but no one used it. The 6tag app from Rudy, one of the Windows developer was always the best. Even many are still sticking to his apps despite the official app updated. And he has a collection of apps, that resembles the Facebook, Tinder, Instagram and others and some are better than the official ones. If a single developed can do this, why not Canonical. Fine, you start with something which is not to the level of the same on other platforms, but slowly and steadily it can be polished and improved. I won't mind with a Facebook Messenger app that works only to send texts and not support GIFs, Images, Sticker as long as it keeps me connected to my Facebook friends. 

The reason for this article from me is the fact that there is no WhatsApp app for Ubuntu Touch till now. You may say you don't care but more than a billion people use it daily. Whomever I know has WhatsApp. The popular line of "text me" has been replaced by ""WhatsApp me". Also, Facebook has ended the messaging through browser, and if you don't have the messenger app and you are not on the Desktop, you cannot talk to your friends. Even if I could, I wont wish to open the browser for everything. 

What do you feel, is the app gap holding the Ubuntu Touch from improving the market share and rising among the crowd? Let me / my readers know your expert opinion. 

And I'm sorry for the word "killing". I am a great fan of Ubuntu and Ubuntu Phone and I wish it to end the market dominance of Android and iOS. I would have used the word "limiting" in place of killing but that's almost same if you consider the fate of Nokia with Symbian and Microsoft with Windows Phone. 

8 comments:

  1. Of course the #UbuntuAppGap is killing Ubuntu phones. I will never consider a U-phone until it supports all the apps on my Samsung Android phone. That is, it must implement the Android API.

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    1. If "supporting android" your criteria, then you're certainly not the target audience for Ubuntu. There's no point in providing all the apps you have on android. You won't move away from Android anyways.

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    2. Gee, you must know my mind better than I do. How did you know that I wouldn't move away from Android? I would in fact continue to use the Ubuntu apps that I now use, PLUS those on my Android phone, getting the benefit of both OSs.

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    3. Gee, you must know my mind better than I do. How did you know that I wouldn't move away from Android? I would in fact continue to use the Ubuntu apps that I now use, PLUS those on my Android phone, getting the benefit of both OSs.

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  2. Furthermore, even if there were no #UbuntuSppGap, and there were similar apps to all those I already have, I couldn't be bothered to configure them all and import my current data to them. Seamless transfer = Android API.

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  3. I don't think it's that much of a problem... Sure, it totally is a problem, but only one of many issues you are facing with introducing a new platform.

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    1. The one facing the issues would be Canonical and the makers of the phone!

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  4. If Android apps are the benchmark of whether person use new platforms, then we're in a lot of trouble. The amount of negative press given to anything not Android or iOS is so heavy that the app gap is the least of our problems. It begins with perception, which for the fickle many is based on whether a biased (android or iOS supported) tech-blog gives it the time of day. I've faced the facts and they're ugly. Once it's outside the current duopoly it will not survive, unless, there are some mentally strong users willing to put it on the line and adopt a new platform.

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