Ubuntu Edge might just change the computing world

Ubuntu Edge might just change the computing world

Summary: It looks like Ubuntu Edge will reach the $32 million goal that Mark Shuttleworth set to begin building the hybrid smartphone PC. But will it have a market? Could it replace the traditional PC?


Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and its parent company, Canonical, is making a bet with the technology market. He's betting that enough of you will be willing to invest in a smartphone that can double as a PC, the Ubuntu Edge, to raise the $32 million needed to manufacture it. You know what? I think he's going to win that bet.

Ubuntu Edge will bring you an Ubuntu desktop computer and Android smartphone in one handheld device.

Before getting into why he'll win not just the bet that gadget fans will want one but the far bigger bet that the world is ready for a single handheld device that can double as a full PC, the Ubuntu Edge.

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu's community manager described the Ubuntu Edge as a device that will "dual boot Ubuntu and Android, and will transform into a PC when docked with a monitor—with the full Ubuntu desktop and shared access to all the phone’s files. For this it needs the power of a PC, so Ubuntu Edge will be equipped with the latest, fastest processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of (SSD) storage."

Specifically, its technical specs, at this time, look like this: 

  • Dual-boot Ubuntu Edge into either Ubuntu or Android

  • A fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC when docked

  • Fast and powerful device with multi-core CPU and at least 4GB RAM

  • 128GB of Solid State Device (SSD) storage for photos, music, content

  • A 4.5-inch 1,280 x 720 HD display with a pure sapphire crystal screen, the hardest natural substance after the diamond

  • Cameras made for low-light, fast response and close up pictures: 8mp rear camera, 2mp front

  • Faster connections all over the world with dual-LTE, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, Near Field Communication (NFC)

  • Connect to HDMI TVs and monitors easily with MHL connector, 3.5mm jack

  • GPS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer

  • Stereo speakers with HD audio, dual-mic recording, Active Noise Cancellation

  • Silicon-anode Li-Ion battery

  • 64 x 9 x 124mm size.

So, why will Canonical get the $32-million it needs from crowd sourcing via Indiegogo over the next 30 days to finance a limited production run of 40,000 phones? First, because gadget lovers won't be able to resist it.  Second, they're already buying into it.

In the first 24-hours of the fundraiser, Canonical raised over $3-million. According to the company, "We hit $1 million in under five hours, and $2 million not long after that. We’ve now passed the 10 percent line, which shows just how much demand there is out there for the Edge’s radical new approach to mobile technology."

In 24-hours, Canonical raised over 10-percent of the amount it needed for the Ubuntu Edge.

Pretty good right?

Here's what you may not know.

Canonical has been working on combining an Androd smartphone and the Ubuntu desktop since early 2012. This idea of a hybrid smartphone/PC has been in the works for months. Mark and company know exactly what they're doing.

And, what are they working on you ask? Well, it's not simply throwing out yet another cool gadget idea to float or sink. It's the result of a long, hard look at the PC market and deciding that it was time for a radical new idea.

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that the PC market has started a long slow death. Earlier this year, IDC reported the worse PC sales drop in a generation.

It's not that PCs are going to go away. They're not. We're still going to be using them in offices and homes for years. They let us do work that we can't easily do with a tablet or a phone. But, and it's a big but, what we really want these days are smaller, hand-portable devices.

One of my ZDNet colleagues argues that RT's failure may herald the death of Windows. Another thinks that it shows that the Windows PC is becoming irrelevant. Google would agree but maintain that desktop computing's future belongs to the cloud-based Chromebook. The Chromebook's sales numbers would seem to bear this out.

Canonical looked at this same market and came up with its own take. Yes, they say, people want a handheld device not a PC. But they also know that many of us will always need a keyboard-based device as well.

Their answer: Give people a single device. Make it so people don't need to carry a laptop, even a Chromebook, and a smartphone. Make it so that you can carry all your needed computing power in a shirt pocket. They foresee a post-PC future where you simply plug your super-smartphone into your office, hotel, conference center, or home keyboard and monitor and you'll be ready to go.

Will people buy into this bet? I think they will.

 I don't know if single-unit, everything-in-one, fit into your pocket PCs/smartphones will become the form factor for the near future. I do know that it won't be the traditional PC or laptop. Their day is done. The future belongs to cloud-based devices, tablets, smartphones, and, quite possibly, devices that look and work a lot like Canonical's Ubuntu Edge.

Related Stories:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Linux, Mobile OS, Smartphones, Ubuntu, PCs

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  • Change the computing world?

    It won't. As commented on ZDNet many times, people don't want a PC on a phone or tablet.
    William Farrel
    • Fix the spam filter!

      They are simple devices to do basic day to day tasks, with out the worry of a PC operating system on them, which is why so many people bought tablets and phones.
      William Farrel
      • Lets try this

        They are simple devices to do day to day tasks
        William Farrel
      • Spam filter works fine

        Stop Spamming
        • No, the spam filter is haywire.

          Firstly, its stops all kinds of non spam posts, secondly, all you have to look at is several articles in the last week alone to see its doing nothing much to stop the spam.

          It may not mean the spam filter is literally broken, but it most certainly means it dosnt work right. As in, it never did work right and still dosnt.
          • The spam filter is insane.

            I have had many posts spam flagged despite never having posted any sort of advertisement or plug for a product. Then, we see daily posts about some idiot who was shocked that somebody's mother made $5k in a week. (Real spam.)

            The filter doesn't work. It allows actual spam to get through while interfering with those of us expressing our opinions on the actual article.
          • that couldnt happen

            This is ZDNet and they are high tech.

            Back on track. you still need to carry a keyboard and mouse around to make the phone work as a PC. Also need an HDMI cable to plug into that HDTV in the hotel room. I've tried this scenario on the road using many versions of Motorola's web top. Once you're hauling a keyboard, a netbook isn't much more space so it didn't work for me. All my data syncs anyway.
          • For on the road.....

            There are many ideas such as a laptop peripheral that is the size of a netbook. Or you can have the dock a foldable keyboard an hdmi cable and a laptop mouse which all fit in a small zippable pouch.
          • Standardize the interface

            Lars, all that is needed for this device to be successful is a standardized interface to add the needed peripherals. USB 3.0 should be able to do the job as it has high enough bandwidth. If something else is needed then let the electronics companies come up with a standardized interface for this task.
          • Agree with Bill 100%

            Agree with Bill 100%
          • Yep, BillDem, I've been falsely flagged several times

            So whatever keys they use to detect real spam, only work against real posters.

            And this real poster doesn't want Ubuntu, much less an Ubuntu phone. The only OS worse than Windows 8, is Ubuntu.
          • brain out

            Yes your brain has fallen out. Normally having an open mind doesn't let the brain fall out but in your case....well....
            Home Grown IT
          • Voting Doesn't Work Either

            I tried to Vote. 'Error', a few times. Then, 'You've Already Voted'. Where?
            There are far too many things wrong with this Site. ZDNet doesn't appear to care.
          • Voting Doesn't Work Either

            I tried to Vote. 'Error', a few times. Then, 'You've Already Voted'. Where?
            There are far too many things wrong with this Site. ZDNet doesn't appear to care.
        • Don't Agree with you, just about anything one types seems to be spam

          I Don't Agree with you, just about anything one types seems to be spam, why cant the system tell one what seems to be the problem in a reply post. I used no swear words, did not try to sell anything, just did not agree that a MS product price was reasonable.
          I saw other replies with the dollar sign in it but removed that and it was still regarded as spam. So can you then explain all the replys or posts that get marked as spam?
      • The "Simple Device" and the PC make a good combination

        William, the point of this device is that it is both the simple device of which you speak and the PC that most of us need to do real work. In another article by SVN I just argued for the continued life of the PC, but I could certainly see a device such as this replacing the PC, since it is basically NOT replacing the PC but becoming a PC when you need one.
      • Not to mention ...

        Not to mention that a machine running Ubuntu is hardly a "full PC".

        Only a Windows hater would assert that.

        Oh yeah. Check the source.

    • Exactly right

      People don't want a PC on a phone or a tablet - and by the same token neither do they want a phone or a tablet on a PC - so it begs the question 'why are you such a fan of W8?'
      The Central Scrutinizer
      • Really?

        Then why do they get smartphones in the first place?
        Jacob VanWagoner
        • Just because it is handy

          I and my collegues need pc desktops for work. Being able to run multiple apps (RDP, putty, Office apps, Browsers, eHealth monitoring, Spectrum and many more. Some nicely arranged windows on 2 big 27" screens and at average at least 15 windows open.

          A lot of my friends want pc desktops to run the latest heavy games.

          Dont see that working from a mobile device.