In Canonical's recent announcement (see link) about the upcoming preview of Ubuntu Phone, they make this claim (quoted verbatim):
"When complete, the same Ubuntu code will deliver a mobile, tablet, desktop or TV experiences depending on the device it is installed on, or where it is docked."
Now, this kind of device spectrum thinking is something we've been promoting for a number of years as part of our vision for KDE Plasma. Long before Canonical decided this was something that made any sort of sense, before they started using Qt and QML, we were there working towards this. Today, we deliver this kind of functionality and are working to jump even further down this road. So we know a few things about this topic: how compelling it can be for users, and also how hard it is to make it actually work. So we're huge fans of this kid of approach and feel it is one area that Free software is taking a lead. Huzzah, right?
However, having looked at the code behind Unity, knowing about their "Ubuntu for Android" product which pops up a Unity desktop when a supported phone is docked, and having looked into Ubuntu Phone APIs (such as one can right now; the cards are still fairly close to the chest) .. Canonical's claim is a hollow one.
We can start with the obvious clue: Unity currently does not use QML at all; Ubuntu Phone is pure QML. So, no, it is not the same code, it is not the sort of seamless cross-device technology bridge that they are purporting.
Ah, but the wording in the announcement is a bit cagey ... Perhaps if we define "same Ubuntu code" to mean "Ubuntu the distribution with all versions of the UI installed" we can cover this with a great amount of fudge factor. Perhaps Unity will eventually be merged with Ubuntu Phone, and that's what they mean by "when complete".
Yet if we read it at face value .. that is not the message one gets, and that message does not reflect reality. This is not accidental.
Making unfounded claims in this manner is, imho, ethically weak. But what is really disappointing here is that the Free software community is being told a fairy tale in hopes that they will believe it and as a result support Canonical .. under what amounts to false pretenses.
If you're a Free software developer, user and/or supporter and buying into these claims, I don't know how else to put it other than this: you're being duped.
Consider what supporting those who employ such tactics means for Free software.
p.s. I'm usually very hesitant to speak critically in public about other Free software projects as it usually does more harm than good, and given my professional interest in these areas some may wonder if I'm speaking from a conflict of interest. I want to make it crystal clear that I think Ubuntu Phone a great thing to see; more Free software mobile efforts, particularly ones using Qt/QML, warm my insides like a good bowl of soup on a cold winter's night. We've even been discussing how to harmonize QML APIs in future between Plasma and Ubuntu Phone ... all the same, it is difficult to sit on one's hands and say nothing when such communication techniques that are not healthy for the Free software movement are employed.