- Ubuntu Touch
- Firefox OS
- Sailfish OS (based on MeeGo/Mer)
- Tizen (Samsung)
Software merit aside, Ubuntu seems like the least likely option to succeed. As far as I know (please correct me), they don't have much in terms of phone maker or carrier support. Firefox OS has Telephonica and GeeksPhone (still just a startup). Sailfish is developed by Jolla (a bunch of former Nokia employees), they seemed to be backed by a Finnish carrier. All these projects are relatively small scale compared to Samsung's Tizen. NTT Docomo is also backing Tizen which means the project both has the world's largest smartphone manufacturer and one of the world's largest phone carrier behind it.
I want at least one or two of these projects to actually succeed. Why? Because we badly need open source/linux alternatives to Android, which has severe problems (not all caused by Google - the carriers/manufacturers bear a large part of the blame):
- The security/updates situation is a mess, there's no way to deny it. Can you imagine a world where both PC manufacturers and/or ISPs must approve and deploy Windows updates before they reach the end user? This is Android right now.
And before the inevitable "Buy Nexus if you want updates" answer: Do you know how insane that sounds? "Buy Toshiba if you want to access Windows update", that's how.
- For Google, Android is just another platform to deliver adds, which means they built the system in a way that won't let the average user block them: The consequence is no effective root access for the user (in order to prevent - amongst other things - host file based and system wide ad blocking). This means Google or the manufacturer owns your phone, not you.
And no, being able to unlock the bootloader and install an after-market rom because you have a Nexus phone is *not* enough. Regular users don't need to install a special version of Windows/OS X/Ubuntu to have root access to their computers. Why should it be different with phones?
Linux is Free. Windows and OS X have to be purchased, Android on the other way is paid for by looking at Google's ads... hardly a sane and secure model for an OS. We need to get away from ad-based computing.