Vodafone Webbook with Ubuntu software launched in South Africa

Canonical today announces that Vodacom, the African subsidiary of Vodafone, has launched the Vodafone Webbook, which is available to users exclusively with the Ubuntu software. The goal of the product is to bring an affordable, full-featured online computing experience to millions of young South Africans to whom owning a personal computer has to date been impossible.

The Webbook is a slim, lightweight and sleek design that matches perfectly with the intended mobile computing usage. The product features Ubuntu’s incredibly easy-to-use, intuitive and highly graphical interface. It comes packed with applications and access to hundreds more from the scientific research tools to fun games for the family. It also innovates through use of an ARM processor to drive the device, and reduce cost and power usage.

“Ubuntu’s founding principle is to remove the barriers of access to computing for everyone,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder and product strategist at Canonical. “Products like this give hope of connectivity to the three billion people of our planet who are unconnected today. It’s a step, we hope one of many more, that puts people on a level playing field in terms of the tools they use and the worlds they can explore,” says Mark.

Speaking about the Webbook, Chris Ross, Managing Executive of Commercial Development at Vodacom said: “The Vodafone Webbook is going to offer the end user a compelling, mobile or at-home computing experience at an affordable price. We think this device is going to be particularly important and attractive for the emerging market.”

The device is evidence of a growing trend in emerging markets to look at alternative technologies to drive the huge growth in IT and telco usage. Ubuntu has seen substantial growth in China, India and across the developing world as a legal, full-featured and flexible technology that offers manufacturers and purchasers a real alternative that embraces an operating system, a compelling application stack and access to the cloud. Ubuntu’s ability to run on Intel and ARM chipsets also gives flexibility on cost, especially important in markets where every dollar saved can make a real impact on the success of a product.

About Vodacom

Vodacom Group Limited (Vodacom) is an African mobile communications company providing voice, messaging, data and converged services to over 43 million customers. From its roots in South Africa, Vodacom has grown its operations to include networks in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho and provides carrier and business services to customers in over 70 countries.

Vodacom is majority owned by Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies by revenue, and is listed on the JSE Limited under the symbol VOD.

About Canonical

Canonical provides engineering, online and professional services to Ubuntu partners and customers worldwide. As the company behind the Ubuntu project, Canonical is committed to the production and support of Ubuntu – an ever-popular and fast-growing open-source operating system. It aims to ensure that Ubuntu is available to every organisation and individual on servers, desktops, laptops and netbooks.

Canonical partners with computer hardware manufacturers to certify Ubuntu, provides migration, deployment, support and training services to businesses, and offers online services direct to end users. Canonical also builds and maintains collaborative, open source development tools to ensure that organisations and individuals can participate fully in innovations within the open-source community. For more information, please visit the Canonical website.