Jul 22, 2013
Ubuntu’s parent company Canonical has made a lot of rumblings over the past couple of years about Ubuntu for Android, their concept of a mobile OS that would be adaptable to mobile-friendly interfaces while functioning as a standard desktop OS when docked. While news has come out and even test builds have made their way on to Nexus devices, a concrete plan for Ubuntu for Android has not been realized until now. Canonical wants to launch the Ubuntu Edge phone, but needs more crowdfunded money than anyone else has ever gotten.
First, the phone: while it’s currently still a concept, the specs they’re targeting would make it the fastest phone on the market. 128 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM, “the fastest multi-core CPU” all on a 4.5" 1280×720 display. Granted, this is all targeted for next year, but that’s not a bad set of planned specs. Not real yet, but planned. Interestingly, the phone is intended to launch with the ability to dual-boot Android as well as Ubuntu, which is quite possibly the best part of this. Have any issues with Ubuntu lacking apps? Well, good news, they’ll be on Android. Even just as a phone that could run Android when needed as a phone and work as a desktop when necessary, that’s not a bad combo.
Now for the sticker shock: the price? Planned to be about $830 for the unlocked version. Or $600 for those who back Canonical’s $32 million IndieGoGo project for the Ubuntu Edge on day one.
Yes, Canonical has decided to take the maxim “shoot for the moon; even if you miss you’ll be among the stars” to heart. This could conceivably be the biggest crowdfunding project of all time and it could still fall well short of its goal. Of course, the scale is massive. Hardware crowdfunding projects have done big business before: look at the Ouya and Pebble watch. Still, those were fractions of the price of the Ubuntu Edge. It’s a lofty goal, but pledges are coming in, with over $850,000 pledged as of writing. Despite being on IndieGoGo, which has more flexible funding options than Kickstarter, this is using the same “all-or-nothing” fixed funding model: if they don’t get at least $32 million, they get squat.
And right now, if they don’t fund the Ubuntu Edge, the plan for an Ubuntu phone is dead. Ubuntu for Android will still exist, as they’ll keep targeting release on other hardware, but their own flagship device won’t happen. The chances that they succeed with this project are slim, as getting people to part with $830 for a phone that has an estimated release date of May 2014 isn’t easy, and no one has ever come close to this sort of crowdfunding money, much less away from Kickstarter. But Canonical is an established enough company that it doesn’t seem impossible. Just highly unlikely.