Ubuntu launches crowdfunding effort to manufacture a PC-level Edge superphone

Ubuntu launches crowdfunding effort to manufacture a PC-level Edge superphone

Summary: Canonical is hoping to raise $32 million from enterprises and enthusiasts who are willing to pay for a limited edition Ubuntu for Android phone that has the specification of a laptop and delivers the "full desktop experience" when plugged into a big screen.


Canonical has embarked on what it claims is "the biggest ever crowdfunding campaign" to develop and manufacture a Ubuntu Edge smartphone that company founder and funder Mark Shuttleworth says is a mobile phone with the specification of a low-end laptop. This will be "a new class of device which brings forward what we see as the inevitable convergence of the phone and the PC," aimed primarily at enterprises and enthusiasts -- "people like us," said Shuttleworth.

Canonical is using Indiegogo to raise $32 million (£21.5 million) over 30 days. This will finance a limited production run of 40,000 phones.

"Backers committing $600 (£394) on day one, or $830 (£532) thereafter, will receive one of these groundbreaking mobile devices in May 2014," according to Canonical. Enterprises can buy a bundle of 100 phones for $80,000, including some online support.

"If we don't get the money, we're not going to do it," Shuttleworth added.

In a conference call today (Monday), Shuttleworth said the company was trying to exploit an "innovation gap" in the mobile phone industry. By making "tens of thousands rather than tens of millions" of devices, Canonical would be able to use more advanced, next generation components that have yet to reach high levels of mass production.

Indeed, the Edge's final specification is still somewhat open, and Shuttleworth said Canonical had not yet decided on a processor. He said that some of the people buying high-end packages at Indiegogo would be consulted on the final choices.

ubuntu edge

The initial specification, subject to change, is for the Ubuntu Edge to have a multi-core processor (perhaps 2.4GHz) with at least 4GB of memory and at least 128GB of storage. It will have a 4.5-inch sapphire crystal screen with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, 8 megapixel and 2MP cameras, a silicon-anode Li-Ion battery, stereo speakers with HD audio, dual-mic recording, and active noise cancellation. Shuttleworth said the spec was "above what the industry would spec for itself."

The radio features will include dual LTE for roaming in both Europe and the US. An MHL connector will enable users to connect the Edge to an HDMI TV for a "full desktop experience".

The operating system is "Ubuntu for Android with some level of file-sharing".

I asked Shuttleworth where Google was involved, if at all. He said he hadn't talked to Google about possible participation but "we are actively working with Android [app] developers". However, he said carriers were "keen to make sure the platform was open".

The Edge superphone is a possible addition to Canonical's existing plans for a range of Ubuntu phones: two mid-range and two high-end phones, with branded and unbranded options.

Canonical said: "Upon completion, the Ubuntu Edge will be the realisation of Canonical’s distinctive vision for a single operating system driving phones, tablets, conventional computers and TVs."

That's a vision that Microsoft has been busy executing for a long time, though with limited success. Of course, Canonical doesn't have to make the same sort of numbers: it's starting with less than 1 percent of the desktop PC market and 0 percent in phones.



Topics: Smartphones, Linux, Open Source, Ubuntu

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • "... May 2014..."

    So they want us to pay today, and get a phone next year?

    • That is ow crowdsourcing works

      And t has worked well for projects like video games.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Not unlike Win 8?

      Many bought Windows 8 last year, but won't have a real OS till Win 8.1 is released later this year.
      Just one difference: Canonical is telling everyone all this up front.
      • Huh?

        Windows 8 is a product that you could use as soon as you paid for it, this is hardly a good comparison.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Not for millions that have and still are downgrading to Win 7.

          Maybe you have heard this question:
          Where's the start button?
          If you have, then it's not an unfair comparison.

          The fix for this question most often is to install Win 7, because, for those users, and there a LOT of them, Win 8 is not a finished OS.
          • Another huh

            So the fact than some people dislike the new UI means it was unusable? I think we have different definitions for unusable. You could still use Windows 8 when you paid for it. It Isa horrible comparison.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Why troll ?

            If you troll and blurt out about something youre ignorant about - that just shows to the world how stupid you are. Thanks for playing.

            Any of us that missed the win8 start button (I did immediately) got it back in 15 minutes by downloading a free 3rd party app. It wasn't hard. Next problem troll?!?
            Go on, say something stupid again, its always good to make others laugh :)
      • Not everything that happens in the world needs to be spun as a

        negative MS comment. You have an unhealthy obsession.

        So why do you think this PC Edge phone will be a failure? I ask because you started right off the bat making excuses for it, by throwing in an unconnected MS bash.
        William Farrel
      • Canonical also has the advantage

        of not shipping products with NSA back doors built in. Unlike Windows which has closed sourced secrets designed to send your data directly to the NSA.
    • Good post

      just as Larry responded I'm alarmed that a single mom can make ($)7030 in 1 month on the internet. did you read this web link... c­a­n9­9.ℂ­ℴ­M
    • Good post

      just as Larry responded I'm alarmed that a single mom can make ($)7030 in 1 month on the internet. did you read this web link... c­a­n9­9.ℂ­ℴ­M
    • Ubuntu super phone

      I think there is real chance this phone and it's specs will be superseded by the time it's released.
      • That's why the specs

        have been left fluid.

        "The initial specification, subject to change,"
        • Subject to change

          Means it will suffer the fate of Duke Nukem Forever. Before they were done with the game, a better graphics/physics engine came out, so they decided to redo the whole thing on the new engine. Before they were done on that, a new one came out so they decided to switch again. And it never ended up really getting done.
          Jacob VanWagoner
          • I doubt it

            If they pushed it back, they'd get sued.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • The hardware specs

            are what's subject to change.
      • Maybe, superseded

        When the project is completed, you'll have a phenomenal support team and a solid, functioning product.
    • Shuttleworth's invested millions

      I've used Ubuntu since it's inception and I've never paid a cent. You have to pay for Windows OS. So, donating, investing in Ubuntu Edge is giving back. $600 is a gratitude token, even if the project is unsuccessful, which I doubt.
  • Screen to small

    The Proposed screen is too small for this device to actually challenge even a netbook.
    7 inch minimum with a near full size keyboard/dock available.
    • The way it works

      Is that you plug it into a monitor and ha monitor gets the full thing.
      Michael Alan Goff