After an eye-popping pitch for a futuristic, dual-booting smartphone-desktop hybrid, the Ubuntu Edge secured the world record for crowdfunding on August 15th, with $10,266,845 pledged. It's since been boosted up to $12.8 million, but unfortunately, that's a far cry from the $32 million that the Canonical company asked for. The Indiegogo campaign has failed, no sponsors will be charged, and no money will be collected.


Say what you will about Canonical and founder Mark Shuttleworth's outlandish goal, but the conceptual hardware and software for the Ubuntu Edge is the stuff that smartphone dreams are made of. A unibody chamfered metal housing, a synthetic sapphire screen, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage are among its highlights. But the real magic is that it would have run Android and Ubuntu Smartphone, plus a full desktop version of Ubuntu when docked with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. There were more than five thousand people willing to pledge $600 or more, just for the promise of a phone that was still a year away at best. And that doesn't include more about $180,000 given by just 12 donors, with Bloomberg LP pledging $80,000 for the Enterprise bundle of 115 phones and industrial support.

Of course, Shuttleworth is no fool - he had to be prepared for the possible or even likely failure of the Edge product. Even if nothing ever comes out of it, he's managed to grab a month's worth of headlines for the Ubuntu Smartphone OS, which is on track to be loaded on retail phones from OEM partners sometime in 2014. An overly cynical commenter might claim that Ubuntu Edge is nothing but a publicity stunt with Indiegogo as an unwitting partner, and a sympathetic one might say that it's a Hail Mary shot at a dream for the open-source community. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.


But don't give up hope yet. Canonical still managed to secure more than $12 million in theoretical funding, even if they don't actually get the money. (The previous record holder was the Pebble smartwatch, which is still the most successful crowdfunding campaign to pay out.) And that figure hasn't gone unnoticed from the movers and shakers in the hardware world. Shuttleworth told the BBC that at least some "large manufacturers" had already expressed interest.

"The campaign has sparked a level of interest that has surprised even us," he said, adding that it had seized the attention not only of phone enthusiasts but innovators and futurists as well as manufacturers. He added that some large manufacturers had come "out of the woodwork" to discuss the device with him.

Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

Source: Indiegogo - Ubuntu Edge, BBC

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • nicotinic

    Their goal was to ambitious.
    It's crowd-funding no an IPO.

  • smellysnatch

    A big company should just fund it and make it for profit

  • hyperbolic

    Too bad.
    It's the only mobile phone that looks promising.

    • Mothreja Jay

      And the only one worthy of price for it's promising hardware. It's unfortunate.

    • jak_341

      This would have been the one phone that made me consider leaving Android. I have have to pick up a cheap GNex and put it on for fun.

      • GazaIan

        The Ubuntu Edge would dual boot with Android... You didn't have to leave Android at all.

    • Ark

      Yeah I like how they even made a little table comparing it to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4. On a phone they said would come out in may/2014, but that would probably be late at least another year.

  • TY

    Now Google, if you would release a Nexus phone with sapphire crystal display, I would be so happy.

    • Kenny O

      Yes! And I would gladly pay $625 for it.

      • Mothreja Jay

        With 4GB ram, 8 core 1.2 Ghz processor and 128 GB storage (Not cloud mind you!)

        • Ark

          AND a battery that lasts 10 times more than current batteries.

          The first time I read through those specs it became immediately obvious to me what this campaign was. He should have written that it printed in 3D too.

          • Max

            Oh the Battery http://www.nexeon.co.uk/

          • Christopher Ching

            There are sound reasons why companies are very careful about hopping on the bandwagon for 'new' technologies. Consumers like battery life, but they also like it when their phones don't suddenly catch fire or suffer any other unfortunate malfunctions. Until there's enough data on reliability from independent sources, companies won't be jumping on it since when the batteries fail, they're the ones that get blamed, not the battery manufacturer.

            Even regular Li-ion batteries have had their share of faults despite being a proven technology overall. From laptop batteries to iPhones and even the Boeing 787, battery mishaps are common,

    • Bob G

      Someone has to start widely adopting it and put Gorilla glass out of business. Durability > thinness.

  • thomm


  • Robert Alex Kibler

    Why doesn't Mark Shuttleworth fund it himself?

    • Vardan Nazaretyan

      He doesn't have enough money?

      • Robert Alex Kibler

        According to Wikipedia, he has a net worth of over $500 million and growing. He doesn't need to put down $30 million. Just enough to get a fully functional prototype built to show that it's worth investing, and then I'm sure he'll get investors. It's hard to get people to invest in vaporware, but not nearly as hard when you show them the working device.

        • Vardan Nazaretyan

          Agreed. I thought he wouldn't have enough money, as Ubuntu is open-source anyway and it's hard to make money with it. But if Wikipedia's article is true, then I think, he should have invested at least $10 Million into this by himself.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            That's honestly what I thought he was going to do. I thought he would see how high indiegogo would go and then fund the rest himself so they could at least keep some of the money. He could have always funded it and then taken his cut back (minus whatever indiegogo charges)

          • Mothreja Jay

            A smart move indeed.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            Too bad it didn't happen..and doesn't seem to have any sign of it happening.

          • Mothreja Jay

            Yeah. (-_-)

          • Vardan Nazaretyan


          • timrcm

            I have to wonder if he was ABLE to fund the remainder himself... I don't want to be the first one to trust PayPal with a $20M+ payment. Maybe if he contacted Indiegogo directly...

        • Max

          Do a little Research on making a smartphone! The cost to get one to market is around $50 million! Mark was willing to back the project with the extra funds it the goal was reached!

    • Max

      Sadly too many folks did Not listen to Mark's video why this was done! He explained it where a 3rd grader could understand!

  • CaibreGreyblade

    I still want one.

    • Joo

      Me too, in my opinion the best looking phone ever made
      At least on early design sketches :)

  • Indian_Art

    I feel if it wasn't for this tough economy it would have got funded.

  • Jose Torres

    Does it really cost $32 million to develop a phone from scratch?

    • Ark

      A phone that's theoretically superior in every way to a S4?

      I don't think it can be done with a billion.

      • ThEGr33k

        Ha ha. There is something that happens with technology (and no doubt else where), I don't know what the official name is but it is; Companies trickle out tech. By that I mean they could make a phone FAR superior to anything we can imagine! Why don't they? Because why do it now when you can slowly upgrade to that point and make a STUPID amount of money on the way? Its simple economics. Unfortunately it is a show of how greed is holding everyone back.

        Ubuntu edge was trying to bypass this money making to bring the phone of tomorrow today. IMO they only failed because of the way they went about it. Which is a HUGE shame!

    • Max

      The average cost to bring a smartphone to market is $50 million! Mark was willing to fund the difference if the project was successful!

      • Ark

        Was he? Then why didn't he?

        And the average cost to bring what smartphone? the iPhone 5? Galaxy Ace Duo? Because I'm pretty sure that there's a difference between the price of getting the Huawei Ascend P6 to market and the Galaxy S4.

  • topgun966

    I think one of the basic flaws in this whole concept is the hardware. Yes, if the phone was released today it would be a beast. But by the time it is released, and the current trend of hardware dev, it would be mid road at best. We are talking 2 full Android release cycles away. I like Ubuntu, but I think they should just keep this as a side project in software dev at this point.

    • Max

      You are mistaken, Canonical was going to keep up with current technology as time went forward! It most likely would have been even better than described!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

        That sounds exactly like George Broussard talking. (The guy who designed Duke Nukem Forever)

  • Matthew Fry

    HEY! Did you just call me an overly cynical commenter?!?

    I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you.

  • Ark

    They got the name Ubuntu and their logo in the front page of every major tech site and blog.

    They got to claim the biggest crowd-funding total ever.

    They got a ton of people getting their name out there for free, in hopes of getting a theoretical ultra phone with future alien technology on the cheap

    All it cost them was the time it took to make a couple videos and a couple posts.

    Failed? They succeeded in spades.

    32 million is nothing for someone trying to start an Android OEM. It's a pittance. But it's a pittance that a bunch of linux nerds would never be able to scramble together in 30 days.

  • Asphyx

    You almost have to wonder if they set the goal too high to be sure it never reached it's goal and the whole purpose was to gauge interest and get some notoriety with the other manufacturers.

    I think it was a great Idea whose time has not yet come...
    Truth is even if they made it past the Funding Hurdles they still had a big issue of getting it accepted by the Carriers. Which is usually the main cause of great ideas failing miserably!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      Or they could have sold it a la Nexus 1, directly to the user who then would put whatever SIM in they wanted.

  • Fewt

    Hang on honey, I just need to load up this keyboard, mouse, and monitor and we'll be ready for our trip!

    The tablet or the laptop? No no, we have the new Ubuntu Edge! It transforms how we use computers all the way back to the Commodore 128D, it's evolutionary!

    Seriously though, the device has no real market, if anything it just proves Shuttleworth is that far out of touch with reality.

    Ubuntu Phone will suffer the same fate because the people responsible for creating it don't understand the market they are trying to enter.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    This whole thing reminds me of that scene In Austin Powers were Dr. Evil goes back in time to 1969 and asks for a Hundred Billion Dollars and then gets laughed at.