Canonical will win even if Ubuntu Edge doesn't make its $32 million

Canonical will win even if Ubuntu Edge doesn't make its $32 million

Summary: It looks less and less likely that Canonical will raise the $32-million it needs for the Ubuntu Edge. So what! It won't matter in the long run.


Canonical , Ubuntu's parent company, made a bet. It wagered that there were enough visionaries out there to crowd-source 32-million dollars for the first Linux-powered combination smartphone/PC, the Ubuntu Edge. It seems that the company will lose that wager, but in the long-run, I think Canonical will rise from the gadget gaming table a winner.

Canonical will win even if the Ubuntu Edge isn't funded.

First, even with Bloomberg backing the Ubuntu Edge campaign, the odds are growing against the Ubuntu Edge project reaching its goal. Even dropping the device's price to $695 on August 8th hasn't been enough to kick-start the project. As of August 11th, with 10 days left in the Ubuntu Edge Indiegogo campaign, Canonical has raised only $9.5-million toward its goal.

To the best of my knowledge that's the most that's ever been raised in a commercial, time-limited crowdsourced project. Still, it's not enough.

Some people hope that Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical and Ubuntu's founder, will ride in at the 11th hour and rescue the project. That seems unlikely. Indeed Canonical has told the Guardian (UK) newspaper that "If we don't reach our target there won't be an Ubuntu Edge."

Shuttleworth won't lose any sleep over it. He told CNet that "Tripling the crowdfunding record is always a super-ambitious goal." But, "It's also clear that this work is ancillary to the broader mission of bringing Ubuntu to the market."


Ubuntu may be the biggest fish in the Linux desktop pond, but it's a minnow in the smartphone and general technology world. The Ubuntu Edge project did capture the imagination of companies, such as Bloomberg, that otherwise would barely notice Canonical.

Shuttleworth also said This is not about an Ubuntu phone. This is about changing the innovation dynamic." That's also true, and it's a key point.

Canonical is far from the first company to talk about a hybrid all-in-one computing device. It's the first I know of that had an operating system, Ubuntu, and an interface, Unity that can run across smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

As ZDNet's Jason Perlow said recently , "For Shuttleworth's vision to become a reality, you need platform unification. In other words, the smartphone, tablet and desktop OS need to become the same operating system, the same developer target and ultimately, the same device."

I think that's exactly where our technology is going. Even if the Ubuntu Edge doesn't happen, Canonical has positioned itself as a visionary company in this new form of computing.

Someone, and soon, will start building these all-in-one devices. I strongly suspect Canonical will be involved in these projects even if they don't lead them. Then, as the mashup of smartphone/PC hybrids starts to take hold in both consumer and IT computing, Canonical will reap the benefits of its early moves.

So win, lose, or draw on Ubuntu Edge, Canonical is now positioned with the Linux community, the larger public, and potential partners as the company that thinks big about computing's future. That's a good place to be.

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Topics: Ubuntu, Hardware, Laptops, Linux, Smartphones

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  • maybe first but not only

    There's a small company called Microsoft which has an OS called Windows which runs on phones, tablets and PCs. No, not quite the exact same UI on phones and desktops, but close. This Windows seems to sell well on PCs, but not so well on phones and tablets.

    Why would Ubuntu expect to do better with one UI across many devices?

    They could, but what does Ubuntu offer with this UI and OS uniformity which Windows wouldn't?

    There could be others. It'd be silly to try to put iOS on laptops or immobile desktops, so Apple isn't going to be in this all-devices chase, but there could be Android laptops and desktops, but why?

    One OS core/kernel on all devices, especially if it's a minimal kernel providing lots of modularity, makes a lot of sense. OTOH, one UI across all devices isn't an obviously good idea. To me, Unity looks OK for tablets, not clear it'd work well on phones, but I won't use it on desktops if I can use an alternative environment.
    • Ubuntu will fair better than Win 8/RT/WP8

      "Why would Ubuntu expect to do better with one UI across many devices?

      They could, but what does Ubuntu offer with this UI and OS uniformity which Windows wouldn't?"

      Linux is much more flexible/scalable/efficient than Windows. Something like 97% of Ubuntu apps in the repos have ARM versions.

      Have you seen or used Ubuntu Touch? The UI is not identical, just shares the same launcher, they are optimised for their respective environments.
      • my issue isn't with Linux

        Package availability isn't an issue either. It's nice to have precompiled binaries, but it should be possible to build binaries on the fly from source code. Compiling as a service.

        I've seen videos of Ubuntu Edge. It's impressive to have a desktop system on a phone, and I agree the UI on phone and desktop isn't exactly the same. Though neither are Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT.

        What I've seen is that Ubuntu would be Ubuntu Touch on phones and tablets, which is OK, and Unity on desktop, not my preference. So far, OK. Presumably Ubuntu tablets would also show Unity desktops when connected to external monitors. How would Ubuntu phones and Ubuntu tablets interact? Or either with desktop systems?

        If we'd be putting our full desktops on our phones, what level of security would Ubuntu provide? It'd better be more than home directory encryption. Probably not a big deal if security is handled in desktop mode, and phone and tablet modes adhere to desktop mode settings.

        I'm still left believing that a UI has to be most appealing to potential buyers on one device if not 2 out of 3. For me, Unity on the desktop ain't it, and given the popularity of KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, xfce and exotica like OpenBox, Unity isn't the first choice of most desktop Linux users. Ubuntu touch would need to be the prefered choice for phone or tablet. It may have a chance, but I'm not convinced.
        • reply to this and the first parent post.

          "They could, but what does Ubuntu offer with this UI and OS uniformity which Windows wouldn't?"

          Open source. Why would I wasn't an Ubuntu phone? I don't I wasn't a Linux phone, and all the customization, configurability, and freedom that comes with it. Linux mint phone, anyone?

          "Unity isn't the first choice of most desktop Linux users."

          While it is not my first choice (KDE) unity is aimed at Linux noobs, making things easy to do and still be attractive looking out of the box. Most people who see Linux for the first time as Ubuntu like the look and feel of it, and very much so the software center.
          • @sdavidson118

            "all the customization, configurability, and freedom that comes with it. Linux mint phone, anyone? "

            Android boasted the same. It ended up with a fragmented ecosystem. I don't want Ubuntu phones to fall in the same pit.
          • not the same...

            The difference is, Google never put an emphasis on making its own phones to control said ecosystem.

            From what I see here, Canonical from the beginning is interested in making its own phone to therefore be in control of it.
          • Canonical is not a hardware company

            "From what I see here, Canonical from the beginning is interested in making its own phone to therefore be in control of it."

            Canonical is not trying to get into the hardware industry. Mark Shuttleworth says that in the video at indiegogo:


            Their product is support and the operating systems Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Touch:

          • ... but a software company

            The new thing Canonical is bringing to the marked is portability and convergence.


            When you dock the Ubuntu Edge phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse you will get a full desktop OS, not just a scaled up phone OS.

      • Linux is much more flexible/scalable/efficient than Windows for buyers?

        they're the ones that matter, not the OEM's.

        All that doesn't mean a hill of beens if the person buying the end products couldn't care less about one OS across devices, and customability.
        William Farrel
        • That qualifier killed you, WF

          Very, very FEW consumers worry about customability (sic).
          • Ok, fair enough Vulpinemac

            so, are there enough of those consumers to make tis worth the effort?
            William Farrel
        • Scale-ability and efficiency are irrelevant to the consumer.

          Today's hardware can do far more than the typical consumer can throw at it. Scale-ability and efficiently only really matter in the enterprise machine-room where Linux dominates already.
          M Wagner
          • Not quite....

            Yeah, maybe scalability isn't a concern for most desktop users, but efficiency definitely is. Especially when it comes to mobile.
          • Linux really doesn't dominate the server room

            because this really isn't related to web servers.

            Since the majority of servers running corporations are Windows based machines (AD, DC, mail servers) that is where this phone would intigrate, and as of now, the server rooms appear to be doing fine with the phones that are out there.

            There really isn't all this phone offers that would make it a "must have" OS.
            William Farrel
          • William Farrel......When you say phones out there

            are you refering to yours, Loverock Davidson, OWlllllnet, YE & toddbottom3's?
            Over and Out
          • Since the majority of servers running corporations are Windows based

            Any facts to back up that claim? I'm betting no.
          • eeee?

            Where have you been the last 15 years? Have you fall asleep for that long?
            Patryk Poblocki
      • "Fare", not "Fair". But too many people are ignoring one fact

        Android, in only 8 months since release, was nowhere near as far along as Windows Phone 8/RT. People are assuming that Microsoft's slow start means "dead on arrival", yet it still lives and is growing, just like the baby it is. Meanwhile, Android is in its teenage years, growing like a weed but starting to lose that growth spurt. iOS is relatively mature and confident in itself--fine-tuning its skills and toning its muscles for the long term while the kids run around thinking they're invulnerable.
        • MSFT gets a reset

          MSFT has sold Windows for phones since the mid 1990s. Prior to the early 2000s they were market leader in smart phone OSes. Then came BlackBerry. Then came iPhone. Then came Android.

          Apparently MSFT gets a reset, and it's long history of selling Windows for phones doesn't count. WP8 has been out less than a year. Ignore WP7.x. Ignore Windows Mobile.

          If you want to look only at WP8, compare it only to iOS6 and Android 4.2.x. How does WP8 stack up then?
        • please consider...

          From this moment on, when you're writing something, please refrain from using cliche, cheesy metaphors. Your entire post made me cringe.