Canonical wants to build a smartphone unlike anything on the market, and the company wants your help to do it. Last week the company announced plans to raise $32 million for the project through crowd-funding site Indiegogo.

That’s more money than anyone’s ever raised for any crowd-funded project. But the Ubuntu Edge project got off to a very strong start, raising millions of dollars in less than a day.

A week later, the tally is at over $7 million, which is pretty impressive when you consider that no other project on Indiegogo has raised more than $2 million.

But there’s still a long way to go — Canonical wants to raise $32 million by August 21st. And that means that one week in, the fund-raising is running behind schedule.

Ubuntu Edge

If Canonical meets its goal, the plan is to ship the Ubuntu Edge smartphone in the first half of 2014. It would have a 4.5 inch, 720p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The phone would dual boot Ubuntu and Android software.

Ubuntu would give users access to Canonical’s smartphone-friendly version of the open source operating system. When you connect the phone to a docking station, you’ll also be able to use a keyboard, mouse and monitor to run full-blown desktop apps such as Firefox, GIMP, AbiWord or LibreOffice. Essentially, the Ubuntu Edge might be the only device you need, combining the functions of a smartphone and a desktop computer (assuming you don’t need a super-speedy desktop PC).

The ability to boot Android on the phone, on the other hand, would help make up for the fact that there probably won’t be very many high quality Ubuntu phone apps available by the time the device ships (if it ships). Since odds are that someone would figure out how to load Android on the device anyway, shipping the Ubuntu Edge with both Android and Ubuntu preloaded seems like a smart move.

Thousands of people have pledged to the project already, claiming some of the lower-priced rewards such as early bird prices for the smartphone. But at this point you need to spend $775 or more to reserve a phone which may or may not ever actually hit the streets, which makes the Ubuntu Edge project a bit of a tough sell.

It’s not that the phones aren’t worth the asking price of up to $830. No other phone released to date has 128GB of built-in storage, for instance. But it’s a lot of money to ask for an untested device — especially because of the way crowd-funding works. If Canonical doesn’t raise $32 million, the project will be scrapped. But even if the company does meet its goal, there’s no guarantee that it will success in bringing the Ubuntu Edge phone to market.

Still, it’s an interesting time for folks keeping an eye on the Ubuntu space. Not only is Canonical already trying to expand its popular GNU/Linux operating system to run on phones and tablets as well as PCs, but now the company’s considering getting into hardware — and this ambitious crowd-funding campaign is an interest test of the strength of the Ubuntu community, the interest in this sort of device, and people’s willingness to put their money where their mouths are.

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16 replies on “Ubuntu Edge raises an impressive $7 million in a week, still running behind goal”

  1. Canonical WILL NOT commit to including an SD Card slot.

    That’s why this is a big fail.

    Apple, Google, Amazon, etc., etc., all driving you to their “Cloud” to store your media – and control you in the process. Now add Canonical to the list.

    1. it has 128 gig of storage…… I hardly ever use my SD card in my 16GB phone now as it is..

  2. I love the idea of the dual-boot / desktop mode Edge that Canonical is trying to get people to fork over *cough* 32 Million dollars on. Yeah, that would be really neat. You know what else would be neat? Having a damn Ubuntu phone with working software on a Nexus or Samsung product, that would show off the product you’ve been blathering on about for a year now. Right now, the only Ubuntu Phone anything in the wilds are rare showings at electronics expos and developer builds. A stable ready-for-consumer-release? Not yet. Any reviews out there on how this OS performs on an S4? Nada. So, Canonical wants me to plop down close to 800 bucks for a phone that may or may not arrive sometime 6 months from now with specifications “subject to change”, unproven software running on a phone built by…. Who’s building this thing again… HTC? Motorola? Meh. Early adoptors, I admire your adventurous spirit, but I need assurances that an 800 dollar phone is going to work as an 800 phone, before I drop 800 dollars on it.

  3. Don’t need a super speedy PC? Have you ever used a linux os? Usually light. I am on a 1.6ghz cpu 1gb ram machine now, and it’s as fast as any quad core Windows machine all full of startup applications and crap.
    This phone would probably have a quad-core well over a few ghz cpu, and 4gb ram, And and even lighter os. That is not slow.

  4. They would reach their target of $32 Million if they had an affordable tier for the Phone , say ~ $695. It was proven early in the project that there was enough momentum at roughly this price to make it to the target.

    The thing is , they could have offered it at that price and still made their profit/unit of $780-$800 by offering premium perks so that the average works out to what they want. Just like every other Crowd Funded project does.

    1. $695 affordable? That’s 3 phones for me.

      I see how they’re approaching this as a clear demonstration of their incompetence. This project is not suitable or in the spirit of crowd funding and their product is not even defined properly…
      Also they have a history of screwing up projects and producing terrible products so I don’t know why anybody sane would invest in them.

      1. Are you talking about subsidzed phone pricing or non-high end phones?

        Anyway, I agree that Canonical isn’t going about this the right way. For an already established company they should develop their phone with their own money and maybe get investors like how other companies do.

        I’d prefer if Conanical gets their OS working on existing hardware though. Maybe even partner up with the OEM of that hardware to officially offer an Ubuntu variant of the phone/tablet. Also, I’d like the hardware they use to have an SD card slot and an optional exended battery like the Samsung Galaxy phones. So no Nexuses/Nexii for me which seems to be their current reference platform.

        1. “Anyway, I agree that Canonical isn’t going about this the right way.”
          I have the same opinion. Canonical is pointing to high for a start. They should have started with ONE good-resonable price hw device (not an very-expensive-futuristic-SF-one) and try to polish Ubuntu OS for phone and create a stable user base.
          After that, when they will have market share, they could do whatever they want.
          It is a pitty, because they raised an impressive amount of money, for a futuristic device, when they could (maybe) have raised the same amount for a reality-based product, wich the average Joe Geek (like myself) would buy.
          I don’t see myself buying this SF product. Sorry, Canonical 🙁

          1. It’s either you want your phone to be your computer or not. Mid and low end phones simply can’t act as a fully functional linux desktop. Even currently top processors like Tegra 4 or Snapdragon 800 will have hard time running full desktop OS.

            BTW, there is nothing SF about the Edge… It’s OK if you don’t want to fund an initiative, It’s not OK to spread nonsense when you are lacking some basic understanding.

          2. Fastest multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage
            sapphire crystal display
            Dual-LTE
            Silicon-anode Li-Ion battery

            ……..that’s sound like SF to me…..

            Quote me:

            “After that, when they will have market share, they could do whatever they want.”

            If you had read my post and not beeing preocupied by my “basic understanding”, you knew that i was not against the ideea of a “desktop in your poket – smartphone” – wich in my opinion, at this time can’t be replaced.
            Canonical should not have entered this business wich such as bold ideea.

            Canonical is pointing to high for a start.
            I’m sorry for them, because they have reliable software products.

        2. I was referring to low-end (to almost mid range) Android phones. Yes, low end Android phones are *terrible* – you can get a much better experience out of Windows Phone devices at that price point. Weird, I know… However I digress.

          The approach Canonical are taking to bootstrap their entry to the high-end phone market is very unprofessional and strategically unsound. If you have a serious product and you claim to be a serious company – then go find serious funding instead of risking your reputation on a failed funding smash-and-grab and pissing off a lot of your fan-base in the process (though, I’m sure fanbois will find a way to rationalise this away, since they’ve done so with every single Canonical screw-up so far).

          Also you would have to be mentally impaired to try to play ball with the well established competitors in the high-end market! Hammer: meet face.

          I think the crowds can be ignorant but not for the reason inkflow says. I think they’re ignorant because they don’t investigate the company’s history (sometimes they have none, but then you’re aware of the risk in that case) and they immediately believe whatever the shiny marketing materials say.

          Crowds can be clever too and to prove it there have been some amazing Kickstarter projects. I am a very happy Pebble backer. I guess it depends on if they attract a crowd around a great proposal and prototype, or a herd of cattle around a bucket of grain (…and a nice friendly butcher calmly leading the trusting bovines to Bovine University).

          As for inkflow’s point 2, I can believe this as I see the same thing here in Australia… Some people think getting a “free” phone on a $2000 24 month contract is a great deal.

          I wonder what percentage of the people backing Canonical’s Kickstarter project are aware that backing is *not* the same as placing a pre-order.

      2. Well I actually think this campaign is demonstrating that the crowd is ignorant.

        1. Its hard for the crowd to understand a new concept until they actually see the product.
        2. The crowd is brainwashed (mostly in the USA) that a top tier phone cost about $200… They even call it subsidized… When the truth is that they pay more than $1000 for it!

  5. They are nowhere near ready to pull this off yet…

    Canonical should have started with their own officially branded ARM mini-pcs first…

    They should focus on their bread and butter, not trying to chase golden gooses.

  6. Will it have an SD card slot? I know it’ll have a 128 GB SSD but I like the option to expand it when I eventually run out of space. Also, a cheaper 32 GB with SD card slot model would likely get more backers (ie. pre-orders).

    Too bad a lot of people in the Linux community are hating on Canonical right now for what they are/have been doing on the Linux desktop side of things. Otherwise, Canonical might get more backers.

    I want a Linux phone with out of the box root access and where I can run bash scripts and some simple command line C++ software (the same exact ones I run on my desktop and home servers) but only if it’s already out. Too bad the initial release is going to be pretty buggy like most things (the G1 with Android was pretty bad as well).

  7. I would love the Edge. AT&T just rolled out 4G LTE in my town, and I would love a phone that comes preloaded with Ubuntu Touch and Android, plus a full desktop version in docking (I know this is part of Ubuntu Touch). The screen is a very decent size, 720p is a decent resolution, and having 128 GB of storage is just fantastic. Especially if the screen is sapphire. Hopefully a decent chip, like a Rockchip 8 core processor, Tegra 4, or new Snapdragon. This would wipe the floor with any modern smartphone, and unlike most phone owners, I won’t have to worry about my screen breaking if I drop it.

  8. It would never reach $32 million goal. It’s too much. Furthermore, Edge has no exact specifications list, and there is no dock in the box, and people have to wait about one year. I like the idea, but 32 million…

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