Canonical Tests Limits of Crowdfunding With $32M Idiegogo Campaign for Ubuntu Edge Smartphone

They're trying to cram every cutting-edge bit of tech into one phone, and we're fine with that.
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Canonical is stepping up its efforts on the Ubuntu for Phones front. They’ve launched one of the most ambitious crowdfunding campaigns in history to offer enthusiastic early adopters the Ubuntu Edge smartphone. The campaign not only pushes the limits of what crowdfunding can do, but it also wants to push what phones can do.

Part of the push with Ubuntu for Phones is the idea of convergence — getting rid of the line between phone and computer. Canonical has already promised that Ubuntu for Phones will turn a phone into a fully operational Ubuntu system, but with the Edge they’re also promising a phone that’s specifically built for that purpose.

What’s truly fascinating about this campaign and the Edge itself is that Canonical isn’t trying to raise money to bring the phone to production. Companies and Zach Braff can get a bad rap for taking the crowdfunding route if the public thinks they should be getting their money elsewhere, but Canonical has always been based around a supportive community. Additionally, the phone is only being offered through this campaign.

If you want the Edge you need to support this campaign, because it’s not coming to market. The phone is only being offered to supporters, so you have until August 21st to pony up $830 — or $600 if you back the campaign by 11:00 AM EDT Tuesday July 23rd. It’s essentially an experiment to see if there are enough people interested in trying out the latest technology available.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth compares it to Formula 1 racing, which he says serves as a commercial testing ground for cutting-edge automotive technology. He’s hoping to provide that service for the mobile phone industry. Instead of waiting for a technology to prove it can sell millions of units, he thinks there should be a way for consumers to try them out.

There have been a number of crowdfunded projects to cross the million dollar mark. Pebble even made it to $10.2 million, but Canonical is seeking an unprecedented $32 million to get its Ubuntu Edge smartphone off the ground and into the hands of some Linux-loving early adopters. If it’s a success, this could become an annual event where Ubuntu offers the latest in phone tech.

Specs are tenuous for now, with Shuttleworth pretty much just promising the best of everything. What we do know is that the Edge will have a 4.5″ screen, which Shuttleworth says is the perfect size to make use of Ubuntu for Phones edge navigation. Oooooooh. “Ubuntu Edge” I just got it. Clever.

The phone will have the fastest multi-core processor available, at least 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. It will also replace the glass screen with sapphire crystal, which according to Shuttleworth you’d need diamonds in your pockets to scratch. The Edge will make use of silicon-anode battery technology to try to get a little more juice than we’re used to seeing in phones.

It sounds like the Edge could be a pretty solid contender to act as a primary PC system for someone, or at least a solid backup. I use Ubuntu as my primary operating system already, and I’d love it if I could just carry my phone from home to the office instead of my laptop. I’d also love it if I had $600 to throw at this campaign, but it looks like I’ll have to wait until Ubuntu for Phones becomes available for the phone I have now.

Take a look at the promo video Canonical put together for the Edge campaign.

(Indiegogo via Engadget)

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Glen Tickle
Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.