Canonical has turned to international crowd-funding site Indiegogo to finance its Ubuntu smartphone, and in doing so will push Internet funding to its limits by seeking $32 million.
For the Edge smartphone to go into production, Canonical will have to raise all the money in just 31 days, and at the time of writing, the project is receiving funds by the thousands. If the project receives its requested funding, the phone will not be coming out until May 2014.
This is the first time that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, will actually try and develop a hardware component to its business .
The Ubuntu Edge is a so-called "superphone," according to Canonical, which also says that the device will run the full desktop version of Ubuntu. It includes a 4.5-inch 1280x720 screen, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and the "fastest available" multi-core processor.
It will be one of the most advanced phones on the market if the device comes to fruition, and looks to appeal more toward business professionals than to the everyday consumer. The Edge will include very high-end materials such as pure sapphire crystal for the screen, which is the "hardest natural substance after diamond" according to Canonical.
Is Crowd-Funding the Way?
It seems like a stretch for a company like Canonical to raise $32 million just from Indiegogo. Even though it has a long way to go, the project has already received more than $700,000 in the first day of funding, which is a good start but not enough to get what is needed.
"In the car industry, Formula 1 provides a commercial testbed for cutting-edge technologies," Canonical said. "The Ubuntu Edge project aims to do the same for the mobile phone industry."
It is almost guaranteed that no major smartphone company would attempt to develop a device like the Edge, simply due to there being no guarantee of profitability. Canonical is not looking to make this the next iPhone or Galaxy S 4, instead the company wants to offer high-end users a phone that is "low-volume [and] high-technology."
Linux and Android
One of the most interesting aspects of the Ubuntu Edge is that it will run both Linux and Android, instead of solely running Linux like you would expect it to. To start, people running the phone in Android mode will access Ubuntu through the Ubuntu for Android application; further down the line, Canonical will push out a native desktop version of Ubuntu for the Edge.
Analyst Luna Lynnette points out that even though Android provides the Edge with its apps, it will be a hard sell.
"Incorporating Android gives the Ubuntu platform the critical number of apps it needs, but I question the user experience," Lynnette told us. "In addition, Canonical is challenged to convey its advantages over existing products that consumers like in the market."
Whether or not Canonical is able to enter the market with a worthwhile device is yet to be seen, but if it is able to get $32 million in funding, it could definitely stir things up.