This could be bad news for Android-based revenues.
On Thursday, Canonical said that it has formed an alliance with the China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Center (CSIP) which is part of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII). This alliance has created a new reference architecture based on Ubuntu that will become the standard operating system in China.
"[CISP] has selected Canonical’s Ubuntu as the basis for that reference architecture in order to provide a flexible, open, widely-used and standardized operating system," the company said. "The announcement is part of the Chinese government’s five year plan to promote open source software and accelerate the growth of the open source ecosystem within China."
Canonical also said it has teamed up with CSIP and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) to create the CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab in Beijing. The company said that this lab will pool engineers from each organization to accelerate the development of China's Ubuntu-based Windows killer for the desktop and cloud.
Called Ubuntu Kylin, this localized OS will provide features and applications that cater to the Chinese market. As of v13.04, the platform will sport Chinese input methods, Chinese calendars, and a local weather indicator. Users will also be able to quickly scan through most popular Chinese music services directly from the Dash. Future Kylin releases will include integration with Baidu maps, Taobao shopping support, payment processing for Chinese banks, and more.
"The Ubuntu Kylin team is cooperating with WPS, the most popular office suite in China, and is creating photo editing and system management tools which could be incorporated into other flavors of Ubuntu worldwide," the company said.
The first version of Ubuntu Kylin is expected to be released in April 2013 in conjunction with Ubuntu’s global release schedule. Future work will extend beyond the desktop to other platforms, Canonical said.
Despite facing problems with piracy raging in China, this announcement will likely kick Microsoft right where it hurts: in the wallet. Because Ubuntu Kylin is backed by the government, local desktop and laptop makers will likely be forced to use this new Ubuntu variant whether they want to or not. It will be one more step in shutting out the Western influence.
Even more, the "other platforms" description clearly points to smartphones and tablets, a sector where Google currently reigns in China. Switching over to the localized Ubuntu Kylin could cause a ripple effect across the globe as reduced ad revenue generated from a lack of Android usage per device causes Google to change strategies.