Last week, Canonical announced an insane plan to crowd-source $32 million USD to develop the Ubuntu Edge smartphone. Since then, the company has managed to generate $7.4 million in funds, with 22 days left to go. However, observers have noticed that the funding has tapered off, and could require a healthy injection from Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth to succeed.
According to Canonical’s Gustavo Niemeyer, project funding is $600,000 behind schedule. At the current donation rate, the goal will unlikely be met. There's speculation that the $725+ donation levels (eight total) required to actually reserve an Ubuntu Edge smartphone at its early 2014 release is just way too steep.
That makes sense. Why would someone be willing to dump $800 into a smartphone that may never be commercially produced when great phones can be purchased for $300 right now? But that's the nature of crowd-funding: dump money into a project that could potentially be a dud when commercially launched.
"Ubuntu Edge is the ultimate convergence device - challenging established norms for PCs and smartphones," said Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu. "The crowd-funding approach is a new way to prove demand for cutting edge technologies and new classes of device; supporting the Ubuntu Edge is the best way to catalyze the next generation of personal devices from industry."
There's talk that Shuttleworth himself may make a donation to the project from his personal bank account. That rumor stems from Linux Action Show pundit Matt Hartley who mused that the Ubuntu founder has a "press release or something up his sleeve". He supposedly has "some big bang" to shoot off towards the end, pushing the final funds over the target amount.
Currently the Ubuntu Edge is slated to offer a dual-boot feature, allowing the user to load up either Ubuntu Mobile or Android. However when docked with a monitor, the phone will transform into a full Ubuntu desktop. Because of this, not only will it need the latest and fastest components, but 128 GB of storage by default. The company also expects to use a quad-core SoC and at least 4 GB of RAM.
"To make the future of mobile happen we’ll have to smash every record in crowd-funding history," added Shuttleworth. "But if there are enough enthusiasts who want the ultimate in performance, storage, screen, battery and bandwidth, Ubuntu Edge will be the catalyst for awesome innovation, and a taste of the future of the phone."
Canonical plans to produce 40,000 devices with the funds supplied by backers. The $725 tier is listed as "sold out", but backers are welcome to donate $775, $780, $790, $830 and more up to $80,000. This latter tier includes 100 Ubuntu Edge phones and thirty days of online support. The $10,000 tier serves up one of the first 50 numbered Ubuntu Edge devices.