During the Ubuntu 9.10 launch a few weeks ago, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth hinted that Ubuntu may ultimately gain music and entertainment store capabilities -- similar to offerings from Apple (iTunes) and Amazon.com. Fast forward to the present, and Canonical appears to be preparing the Ubuntu One Music Store. Here's why.

On the one hand, WorksWithU focuses mainly on Ubuntu in business. But we certainly won't ignore the consumer market -- especially when Canonical's consumer efforts could potentially help to fund the rest of the company.

Although details are still sketchy, the Ubuntu One Music Store appears to be part of Ubuntu 10.04 (code-named Lucid Lynx). According to Launchpad:
"The Lucid music store project aims to deliver the ability to purchase music from within a desktop music player."
Where will the music come from? A new online music store? Or some existing store? My best guess -- and this is purely a guess -- is some sort of connection to the Amazon MP3 music store, since Shuttleworth briefly mentioned Amazon during the Ubuntu 9.10 launch phone call with media. Also, Amazon in April 2008 released an MP3 downloader program for Linux, including support for Ubuntu.

So, three key questions for Canonical:
  • Can Canonical actually make money from the Ubuntu One Music Store?
  • Is the music store something completely new, or is it a simple connection to existing online music stores?
  • Is Canonical stretching itself too thin by continuing to launch more and more services -- from the original Ubuntu One (for shared storage) to Landscape (for remote management) and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (for private cloud opportunities).
I am reaching out to Canonical for a briefing on the Ubuntu One Music Store. But in the meantime I can tell you this: When my kids run Ubuntu on a range of netbooks and desktops at home there's only one "consumer" application they miss: Apple's iTunes. If the Ubuntu One Music Store fills that void, Canonical could successfully push Ubuntu deeper into the consumer market.

And that could lead to business success as well. We've all seen how Apple uses consumer success to penetrate business markets. I wonder if Shuttleworth is thinking along similar lines at Canonical.

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