Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign seems set to fail

Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign seems set to fail

Summary: Canonical's bid to raise $32 million to fund the creation of the Ubuntu Edge smartphone using a crowdfunding campaign seems likely to failed. So, what went wrong?

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Want a smartphone running both Android and a mobile version of Ubuntu? What about a handset that can also power the full version of Ubuntu? Just how badly do you want a handset like that?

Do you want it enough to pay almost $800 for it? 

When Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, kicked off an Indigogo campaign to raise $32 million, I have to admit I was sceptical that the handset would see light of day. After all, $32 million is a lot of money, and asking people to pay almost $800 for the promise of a handset that they've not see a single review for is asking a lot.

See alsoBest Android smartphones (August 2013 edition)

Even the early bird price of $600 is hardly walking around cash for most people.

The total pledged currently stands at a shade under $8.4 million. A respectable total, but with only 15 days to go, it's far short of the total needed for the funds to be released and for the project to move forward. And time is ticking.

However, given that this is the largest crowdfunding campaign in history – the last one to come close to this was the Pebble smartwatch campaign, which successfully hit the $10 million mark – it is hard to predict what might happen. Successful campaigns usually see the greatest number of pledges at the beginning and end of the campaign, but with less than a third of the total needed pledged so far, a last-minute resurgence in pledges, no matter how enthusiastic, seems unlikely to make up for the shortfall.

Even selling all fifty "Enterprise 100 bundles," consisting of a hundred Ubuntu Edge smartphones, would only add $4 million to the pledge pot. To get the project on track, Canonical needs 40,000 backers to pre-purchase an Ubuntu Edge smartphone over the remaining 15 days. That's over 2,600 a day.

Given the rate at which the total raised is going up, there are fewer than 100 people a day pre-purchasing the handset.

What happens if the $32 million isn't raised? Simple. The Ubuntu Edge won't happen.

"If we don't reach our target there won't be an Ubuntu Edge," Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, told The Guardian. "We greatly appreciate every bit of support we receive during the 30 days. The funding target takes into account the large cost of manufacturing a high-end smartphone."

So, what went wrong?

  • Ubuntu doesn't have enough market clout
    Linux accounts for some 1 percent of the operating system market share, and Ubuntu is a subset of that 1 percent. Given that anyone can run Ubuntu on a PC for free, and yet fewer than 1 percent of PC users do, I fail to see the mass market attraction of this handset.
  • Too many handsets
    There are dozens of quality Android handsets out there that people can walk into a store, try, and buy. The market is close to saturation.
    I read and re-read the campaign page looking for things that gave the Edge the edge, and beyond a few geek thrills such as sapphire glass screen and 4GB of RAM, I came away empty handed.
  • Too much of an ask
    $32 million is a lot of dough, and expecting to raise this in a month is unrealistic. Hardware is expensive to bring to market, and big projects could be beyond what the current crowdfunding model can sustain.
  • Ambiguous spec
    "We’ll choose the fastest available multi-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of storage," tells me little about what to expect. I'd expect the spec to be nailed down at this point, at least as far as who the suppliers for the different components might be.
  • Too far off into the future
    The expected handset delivery date of May 2014 feels far too far in the future. Sure, stuff takes a long time to make, but people are impatient.
  • Wait and see
    I suspect that a lot of people are playing a wait and see game. If the targets are hit and this gets made, then they'll be able to pick one up at some point afterwards. If it doesn't, then it's dead before the start.
  • Dual boot, double trouble
    Dual boot isn't for everyone, and whether you are dual-booting Linux on Windows, Windows on a Mac, or Android and Ubuntu Mobile on the Edge, two operating systems means twice the learning cure, twice the system admin, twice the updates, and twice the hassles.
  • Reboot
    The Ubuntu Edge, with its ability to run Ubuntu when connected to a full-screen display, is not a new idea. Motorola tried this with the Atrix. It was an interesting idea, and reviewers loved it, but it did little to improve Motorola's position. 

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Linux, Ubuntu

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61 comments
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  • What went wrong?

    No one wants or needs another smart phone OS.
    Sir Name
    • Whenever you see "Ubuntu"

      ... you know you gonna see the word "fail" coming up next somewhere somehow.

      Copying Windows never works for them. When will they ever learn?
      LBiege
      • They never copied windows

        They have had stuff that windows hasnt had for an amount of time now. The thing is that they ventured too far off away from their core offerings and everything became unstable and buggy.
        Jimster480
    • Yes we do!

      Considering that all of the alternatives are sharing your data with the NSA!
      T1Oracle
      • Have you not learned that repeating a lie

        does not change it in to fact?

        Or are you one of the previously mentioned participants here that are planted, but paid, by a corporate entity like Google to attempt to perpetuate fabricated lies about one of their competitors?

        I take it you scorned the research links supplied to you with factual versions of what you are trying so had to lie about.
        John Zern
  • Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign seems set to fail

    AS they say......it's not over till its over.....so' we'll see....plenty of big money out there looking for a place to put it.....you never can tell
    Over and Out
    • Another reason not to count them out just yet

      UbuntuKylin steals the show at OCOW Summit

      asia, UbuntuKylin

      On 28-29 June, the eighth Open Source China – Open Source World Summit, sponsored by China OSS Promotion Union (COPU), occurred in Beijing at Beihang University1.

      UbuntuKylin was the talk of the conference. The UbuntuKylin project is a collaborative effort between CSIP,2 Canonical and NUDT.3 Initially released in April 2013, UbuntuKylin is an official Ubuntu flavour that will follow the Ubuntu six-monthly release cycle.
      Over and Out
      • I would agree, if the conference consisted of 10 people

        As only 10 people were seen talking about UbuntuKylin. And it actually didn't "steal the show", what really happened was 1 of those 10 people had stolen a microphone and tried talking about it before being kicked off stage.

        End of Story
        William Farrel
        • Willie honey

          reports are that 2.8 million people attended.

          End Of Story
          Over and Out
          • but only 10 were interested

            the rest were just there for th free food
            William Farrel
          • Like at the Surface RT unvailing I guess

            Free food always brings out the Nothing But Windows Crowd.
            Over and Out
    • I never expected $32 mil

      Although I suspect Mark will "cheat." Regardless, it has already been incredibly successful thus far. Unlike Kickstarter, they don't have to meet the goal to keep the cash. Or at least that's what I remember hearing.
      T1Oracle
  • This isn't true

    "Linux accounts for some 1 percent of the operating system market share"

    Linux accounts for about 80% of the OS market share, or so we keep getting told. It is in routers, super computers, TVs, smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, probably even in toasters and fridges (maybe even a couple "toaster fridges" too).

    So Linux has INCREDIBLE market power with the huge marketshare numbers that many on ZDNet keep advertising.
    toddbottom3
    • Forgot one other place where Linux has nearly 100% marketshare

      Linux is also in a TON of desktops and laptops around the world. Billions of them. You just can't measure it because they aren't sold in stores and these people all change their User Agent so they look like they are coming from Windows in web statistics.

      But trust me, there are billions of Linux desktops and laptops out there.
      toddbottom3
      • toddbottom3.....trust me ....you'll never make it as a comic

        not even on Zdnet with its cast of wana bee's.

        End Of Story
        Over and Out
        • So what do you "wanna bee"?

          Besides one of the resident trolls? Keep waving those pon poms!
          wizard57m-cnet
        • I don't know

          I found it funny. We all know this is the year Linux takes off (again)
          Moosehouse
        • Bad news always brings you out, Enough said

          End of Story
          William Farrel
          • And Willie honey....I can always count on

            you, Moosehouse, wizard57m-cnet, toddbottom3, Owlllllnet, Loverock Davidson, ye and the rest of the Nothing But Windows Fan Club to get your rock off. but hay after the drubbing you've been taking on Surface RT I knew you all wouldn't miss a chance to flap your gums again.

            End Of Story
            Over and Out
          • What? Me, nothing but Windows!

            Hahaha...thank you again, I needed a laugh, it's Wednesday, you know, hump day and all that jazz, plus it's kind of hot and humid weather wise...you really DON'T know much about me, do you? LAYOL (laughing at you out loud).
            As for Surface RT...I've said before that no tablet really interests me, guess you missed that. However, one thing Microsoft is known for, that's persistence if they are given any hope! I never underestimate them!
            wizard57m-cnet