Canonical to close Ubuntu One cloud-storage service

In the face of stiff competition, the company will quit to focus on its OS

Canonical is shutting down its Ubuntu One cloud-storage service rather than continue to go up against competitors such as Dropbox, Google Drive and EMC Syncplicity.

The service will be available until June 1, but as of Wednesday, customers can no longer sign up for it or make purchases. Users' content will be available until July 31, after which it will be deleted, Canonical said in a blog post Wednesday. Customers with paid accounts will have their fees refunded back to the day of the announcement. The company said it will try to give users an easy path to download their content and migrate to other services.

Canonical included Ubuntu One with its Ubuntu Linux OS and included 5GB of free capacity, with extra storage available for US$2.99 per month per 20GB. An optional music service let users stream music via the Web and smartphones for $3.99 per month, with 20GB of capacity included.

But so-called freemium cloud storage has become a more crowded space since Canonical launched the service in 2009. Among others, Ubuntu One is up against big names such as Google and Amazon and other aggressive rivals that are focused on these services, such as Dropbox and Box.

In announcing the change, the company said its OS for desktops, tablets, phones and other systems is at the core of its business and is intended to highlight third-party content and services rather than Canonical's own.

"Additionally, the free storage wars aren't a sustainable place for us to be, particularly with other services now regularly offering 25GB-50GB free storage," CEO Jane Silber wrote in the blog post. "If we offer a service, we want it to compete on a global scale, and for Ubuntu One to continue to do that would require more investment than we are willing to make."

Canonical plans to make the code for Ubuntu One available as open source so others can build their own open-source services.

The shutdown will not affect the Ubuntu One single sign-on or payment services or the U1DB database service, Canonical said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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