February 11, 2015 set a remarkable milestone for ubuntu towards the universal smartphone domination: the first ubuntu phone was launched.. or was it not? Hard to say. To be honest, this must be the weirdest phone launch I have ever seen.
Canonical publicly announced that "the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition – will be available across Europe from bq.com through a series of Flash Sales over the coming weeks" and its first partner in this venture, the spanish smartphone manufacturer bq announced the first sale last wednesday, from 09:00 to 18:00 CET.
To begin with, that was not a flash sale. According to the dictionary, a flash sale is "a very short period of time when a store sells products at much lower prices than usual: A reduction in consumer spending has caused some stores to hold occasional flash sales, lasting just one day".
Priced at 169 EUR + shipping, not only the bq Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is more expensive than its Android sibling (a handset with exactly the very same specs) but as the event unfold, eager ubuntu fans realised that there were no phones in stock, with expected delivery planned for an undefined date within March. So we'd better talk about a "pre-order in disguise"... and what a pre-order that was!
The bq servers crashed as soon as the event started. Buyers had to elude loads of "bad gateway" and "server errors" of all kind while trying to put the goods on their shopping cart, only to discover thereafter that the handsets were sold out already. Orders fulfilled but unpaid were not honored as the system didn't make a reserve while you were entering your credit card details. Think of every possible wickedness: it happened.
Both canonical and bq apologised for the technical problems (due to unprecedented demand so they said) and announced a new flash sale the very same afternoon. Things went almost as bad as the first lot, errors included. Except this time the "sold out" (or should I say "reserved") came much earlier.
Lastly, let's talk about shipping: free to Spain (understandibly) and 20 EUR to Europe. What?! 20 EUR !! Is the phone delivered straight to your home by the CEO in person in a limo? Can't bq (and Canonical) arrange some logistics to make the fees a little more reasonable? They have plenty of time to work it out. Until March, to be precise.
To put the icing on the cake, anxious buyers who already paid for the Aquaris might well see that –while they wait for the first ubuntu phone to ship– the new Meizu MX4 ubuntu phone is announced at the MWC 2015 in Barcelona (2-5 March) and, God forbid, available on or before the bq one.
I think our beloved ubuntu phone deserved a better launch day. Don't you think? But wait a minute! It can still happen! because the ubuntu phone has not launched. Not yet.
What do you think? Were you one of the lucky ones who managed to order an Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition? Did you try and decided to wait for stock? Or for the Meizu? Do have your say in the comments section below.