Ubuntu Edge Funding Effort Fails - InformationWeek

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8/22/2013
10:12 AM
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Ubuntu Edge Funding Effort Fails

Canonical's attempt to crowdsource cash to develop Linux-driven smartphone falls well short of its goals, leaving the project stranded.

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Canonical got caught $20 million short in its attempt to raise $32 million for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone. Canonical gave the project just 30 days to score the funding through Indiegogo, and though it broke a record for the most funds ever pledged, it won't receive the money and the smartphone won't be made.

The phone would have featured a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen with 128GB of internal storage, stereo speakers, sapphire glass and support for worldwide LTE networks.

The Ubuntu Edge was to run the Ubuntu operating system, based on Linux. Canonical debuted the OS in January and came up with the Edge smartphone concept later in the year. The company's original goal with the OS was to offer something that worked on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and TVs.

[ For more on the Ubuntu smartphone, see 5 Reasons I Want An Ubuntu Phone. ]

Ubuntu for smartphones, in particular, used all four edges of the phone's display for unique, gesture-based actions. The user interface allowed for fast app switching and hid control panels unless called upon by the user. The OS had baked-in support for voice commands and text commands in most apps, which were to be based mostly in HTML5. It ran on many of the same drivers found in Google's Android, but didn't include the Java runtime for the Ubuntu user interface and apps.

Canonical's ultimate vision was to see the platform running on smartphones that were then docked with other devices for expanded functionality. For example, the smartphone OS could serve as a full computer when docked with a keyboard, mouse and larger display.

Despite its failure to raise the funds to build a smartphone with Ubuntu OS on board, Canonical still calls the effort a success.

"The big winner from this campaign is Ubuntu," the company said. "While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014. Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won't have much longer to wait."

Ubuntu has been pitching the platform to smartphone, tablet, and PC makers as well as to mobile network operators as a fully converged and ready-to-go computing platform. It's not clear what support it has received from third parties, but Ubuntu certainly implied that devices are still on the way: "All of the support and publicity has continued to drive our discussions with some major manufacturers," the company said, "and we have many of the world’s biggest mobile networks already signed up to the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group."

In total, the campaign ended with $12,812,776 pledged. Since the goal wasn't met, none of the backers, who were asked to spend between $500 and $700 to actually receive one of the phones, will be out any money.

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