The FOSS Force Poll
Our latest poll indicates that many FOSS advocates will end up purchasing a Ubuntu tablet when they become available in March.
Granted, you’re a special audience with a special interest. For the most part you use Linux, and not because you’re a mooch and it doesn’t cost you anything, but because you recognize it as the best that’s available. Certainly it doesn’t hurt that it’s free and open source software. Indeed, you probably think that’s what makes it best, as you most likely see FOSS as the best software development model.
You use GNU/Linux on your desktops and laptops, and most likely use Android on your mobile devices, mostly because it uses the Linux kernel and at least claims to be open source. But you know the difference between OSS and FOSS and would like nothing better than to be able to run GNU/Linux, real honest-to-goodness FOSS, on your phone or tablet — especially now that Firefox OS has been removed from the shelf.
That’s what we figured going in with our latest poll. It was an educated guess, for sure, but it turned out to be correct.
On Monday when we ran Christine Hall’s opinion piece on why she thought the upcoming Ubuntu tablet could change the future of mobile computing, we included a poll which asked, “If the price is right, will you be considering buying a Ubuntu tablet when they’re released in March?”
Guess what? Well over half of you said you’re ready to break out your credit card and make a purchase.
The poll actually went up on our front page on Friday, before being included in Hall’s article. Five hundred twenty-three of you took the poll, with 288 of you, 55.2 percent, answering with a flat-out “yes” vote. Another 110 of you voted “maybe later,” which we take to mean that you’re not necessarily in the market for a tablet right now, but if you were, the Ubuntu tablet would be on your list.
The lowest number of votes in the poll went to the “I don’t know’ crowd — 17 votes or 3.3 percent.
On the nay side, the offered answer with the most votes went to “don’t like tablets,” which took in 48 votes or 9.2 percent of the total. This is interesting, because it indicates that these votes weren’t against the Ubuntu tablet per se, but against tablets in general. However, a small minority of 4.6 percent, or 24 votes, did indicate a vote against Ubuntu, perhaps even mobile GNU/Linux in general, by choosing the answer “No. Anroid/iOS.” A slightly larger minority, 35 votes or 6.7 percent, picked the flat-out negative answer: “No. No reason.”
Doing a little quick addition: 398 of you, representing 76.3 percent of the vote, chose one of the two answers offered in our poll that indicated you would be at least willing to consider purchasing the Ubuntu tablet when it comes out in March. One hundred seven of you, or 20.2 percent, picked one of the three answers that indicated you’d in no way even consider the possibility of purchasing the tablet, with a mere 3.3 percent undecided.
In the comments to the article, we got to hear — read, actually — your reasons. A commenter named 3arn0wl was perhaps the most enthusiastic:
“Even after three years, the Ubuntu phone platform is nascent, but Ubuntu phone is already a trend-setter, with convergence and scopes and all the rest of it. But will Ubuntu phone catch on? It might!
- “Scopes offers something intuitive and fresh.
- “The PC/Phone thing might play well in emerging markets as well as in enterprise.
- “And, if the community can provide the ‘must-have’ apps to sit alongside the Linux canon of productivity apps, the platform has at least as much to offer as the competition.
“Unlike Mozilla, Canonical seem to have a solid business platform to allow for development, and with convergence, developing one area of the code enriches all the code.
“There’s an image by Banksy of the carcass of an iPhone turned into a prison, with an escapee making a dash for it. There will come a point where people tire of the restrictive app-grid, and the single-tasking norm of ‘smartphone’ use.”
Reader Mat has had previous experience with Ubuntu Touch on a mobile device and made this nuanced comment:
“I bought a Nexus 7 (2013), which I put Ubuntu Touch on so I could keep up with how the system was evolving. … I think a converged device will be fantastic, with the ability to run the full OS with keyboard and mouse. However, the device still needs to be usable when in tablet/phone mode. Maybe the converged code will lead to mobile versions of the desktop apps. I am cautiously optimistic.”
Another reader, Mike S., took a little more pessimistic — alas, some might say realistic — view:
“I’m an FSF member. I want free software to conquer the world. But I just don’t see this getting any traction.
“If the battle with Microsoft has taught open source users anything, it is that most people using computers won’t switch away from what they already know. The iPhone and Android were fluke exceptions, partly spurred by the fact that the mobile operating systems were uncompetitive. iPhone came in and blew Blackberry and Symbian and Palm away. Then Android came in and targeted the same market, but at any price point instead of just the $600+ range.
“But now desktop computing and mobile computing is saturated with offerings [that] the average person that doesn’t care about free software will perceive as competent and competitive. And the failure of Windows Phone is proof that such a market is incredibly hard to penetrate. 95% of the population cares nothing for open source, and even with an otherwise decent product and billions in promotions, Microsoft couldn’t establish a strong presence.
“I wanted Firefox OS to take the world by storm and I would love Ubuntu Touch to take the world by storm. But I don’t see either happening.”
As expected, our poll found some of our readers wishing for a GNU/Linux device with a distro other than Ubuntu. Our favorite comment here came from Colonel Panik who wrote:
“Hmmmm, if it runs Ubuntu it might be able to run a real
“When I hear I can put LMDE on it I will buy one.”
With March only a couple of weeks away, we’re waiting with more than a little anticipation to see which way this goes.
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