Ubuntu Mobile Internet DeviceDuring the GSMA Mobile World Conference in Barcelona this week, Canonical is working behind the scenes -- evangelizing Ubuntu-based Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) to new and existing customers. The big question: Will Canonical line up more Ubuntu MID partners, or will MIDs (highly mobile WiFi devices) remain overshadowed by the netbook craze?

For its part, Intel is promoting a new MID technology -- called Moorestown -- at the mobile conference, notes The Wall Street Journal.

Canonical isn't exhibiting at the conference, but the company is holding meetings behind the scenes and taking a close look at Moorestown.

"We are definitely keen to do a Moorestown-based MID device," notes Canonical Marketing Manager Gerry Carr. "Of course we need a customer to ask us to do it first but we work very closely with Intel on these initiatives and have been working towards Moorestown for some time."

Touchy Subject

Still, Canonical's MID initiative seems to be overshadowed by the ongoing netbook craze. When Canonical and Intel announced joint work on MIDs in mid-2007, the effort was expected to focus on touch-driven WiFi devices (and other form factors) that weren't quite smart phones. But since that time, two key mobile market disruptions have occured:
  1. Netbooks came out of nowhere, and demand for the low-cost devices (running Windows XP or Linux) has prompted some skeptics to question whether MIDs will ever gain critical mass.
  2. Google Android, to some extent, has captured the attention of software developers and mobile device makers. It's widely seen as the "open" alternative to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Still, 36 percent of WorksWithU readers continue to express a strong interest in MIDs, according to WorksWithU reader poll concluded January 23, 2009. Concludes Canonical's Carr: MIDs are "a category we are committed to and believe will succeed."

Frankly, I agree with Carr. The reason: Apple's iTouch (iPod Touch) proves there's demand for WiFi-enabled mobile devices that aren't traditional notebooks or smart phones.

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