back to article Ubuntu Edge crowdsauce cash stash comes up short

Canonical’s Ubuntu Edge crowd-funded smartphone will remain a Shuttleworthian dream, having failed to hit its $32m funding target. The phone raised $12.8m ahead of today's deadline on the Indiegogo site, less than half the figure stated necessary to fund production of 40,000 units when the campaign started on 23 July. …


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  1. Vociferous

    $12.8M is damn impressive... beats very popular crowdfunded projects like Ouya, Pebble and Oculus Rift.

    But that also makes me wonder how realistic the original goal was, at almost three times the most successful previous crowd funded project.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: $12.8M is damn impressive...

      In all probability Shuttleworth was well aware that he wasn't going to get all this money from other people just to allow him to play with a new toy.

      If he had been serious he would have chipped in some of his own money.

      No, this was more of an exercise in chest beating with the added benefit of a little publicity for Shuttleworth and Co.

      1. Nezumi

        Re: $12.8M is damn impressive...

        I'm inclined to agree. Quite easy to pledge money and 'support' the cause (when you know damn well you'll never have to give any of the money)

        1. kirovs

          Re: $12.8M is damn impressive...

          Except more than half of the people pledged in the first 48 hours. How did they know it is going to fail then?

    2. Brian Miller

      Re: $12.8M is damn impressive...

      It's impressive, but how many people didn't sign on who, like me, figured that they'd never make their goal? If it had looked like they would have been close, I would have jumped on it in a heartbeat. But to fund that goal, they'd have needed over 40,000 Linux enthusiasts. And yes, that means people for whom "root" is their name, "make" is just how things are done, "C" is not just a letter of the alphabet, and "Bourne" isn't a secret agent.

      I do hope that Shuttleworth will restart the project, but with a lower funding goal, because I would like to have one of those phones.

  2. Rampant Spaniel

    It's a shame the couldn't hook up with someone like sprint and offer them subsidised with unlimited data as a carrier exclusive. Many folks do buy their phones outright but you are cutting out a section of the market if you do unsubsidised only. I'd throw down for one if it was 300-350 bucks on contract. It might have helped them hit their target. Good luck to them, I like the idea a lot but I'm not sure I can get $700 for a phone past the in house auditor, especially for the promise of a phone that doesn't exist yet :-(

    1. Don Jefe

      The partnerships mobile manufacturers have with providers is why it's going to be hard for a not Brand Name manufacturer to get in the game. Partnerships and negotiations are big, complicated, pure business activities; something the OSS people haven't shown a lot of proficiency in.

      It's a classic technology problem, and not indicative of the potential of the hardware, but you've got to talk the talk and walk the walk to get things sold, it isn't just about getting stuff in the shelves. You're going to have to wear suits, play golf and schmooze to get traction with big name providers, in any industry, and most OSS types are pretty terrible at that.

      I'm not knocking OSS types, at all, I'm just saying that you've got to have a face to front your efforts. Neither Apple nor Microsoft nor Oracle nor Google would be what they are without a lot of salesmanship going on.

      1. Terry Barnes

        I'd go further and say that the Linux brand on a consumer device is the kiss of death. Normals are terrified of those 5 letters. There is space for niche products as Vertu have shown, but the carriers won't even think of lifting a finger to help - and why would they, what possible benefit is there in it for them?

    2. R 11

      I disagree about the need for carrier subsidy. Take a look at Google's Nexus 4. It's a very well specced phone with no carrier subsidy and sells for $350. Canonical wanted an extra $500, and I'm simply unsure as to what would justify this massive price differential.

      Presumably Google expect little to no profit on the Nexus, but I'd expect similar from this crowd-funded project. I think if they could have got the phone into the $400 range, then they might have met their target through increased sales.

  3. Shagbag

    Set up to 'fail'

    It strikes me they expected the crowdfunding to 'fail'. Setting a target of more than 3x the then crowdfunding record (Pebble's $10m) could not have been a serious goal and the whole exercise seems more to find out where the 'market' is for a product the likes of the Ubuntu Edge.

    What's telling is the “as described in the Indiegogo campaign” qualification. I think they achieved their real goal of testing the market before committing to it.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Set up to 'fail'

      > the whole exercise seems more to find out where the 'market' is

      That would be my interpretation too, yes.

    2. exanime

      Re: Set up to 'fail'

      Couldn't they just have paid a marketing research firm to do exactly that for them?

      I mean they did spend the money on the technology, the prototypes, the videos, the marketing for the campaign...

      To me it doesn't make sense that they did all these just because they wanted to get a feel of the market... if anything I think it was to demostrate the potential to other smartphone makers but that is hardly news as Shuttlewroth said that outright

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patent cover

    But this means he can patent a lot of stuff. Becasue he had the 'intent' of actually making it

  5. Tank boy

    Perhaps the concept was just a little too much. Investing in something that essentially reinvents the wheel doesn't really appeal to me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought the open sourcers worked for free? seems to be getting rather expensive.

    Here's an idea, just write the OS to work on existing hardware. It may not be so "amazing" as what Shuttlecock was proposing but it is good for getting the project off the ground. You don't need to buy an Ubuntu laptop/desktop to run that.

    1. exanime

      Not only you are an anonymous coward, you are rather ignorant as well...

      Open sourcers give their designs and code away for free, they still need to cover costs...

      Your "idea" is exactly what they have already done... the OS and other "special" features of their development are available and do run in standard platforms

  7. Stevie Silver badge


    Very impressive almost-haul.

    For sheer more-money-than-senseness though, I think you can't beat the Kickstarter for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, and I recommend an hour or so of entertainment looking at the premiums people actually forked over money to get..

    One perplexed onlooker has commented that you can pick up real antiquarian tat for half the price of the Red Leather and Gold Rulebook.

  8. Waspy

    Mark's take on the word 'innovation'

    Hmm, what a surprise. I liked the ambition of the pitch, I even though the product looked nice, but my major beef was with Shuttleworth talking out of his arse. No innovation in smartphones? If he was talking purely about iPhones then maybe, but have you seen Nokia's pureview phones? What about Samsung's 'throw every bit of tech into a slabphone and see what sticks' approach? Or HTC's MacBook-esque alumnium bodies of the One series phones? Yes Mark, no one but Canonical is innovating. If Unity is innovation then I think you need to look up the word 'innovation'.

  9. OffBeatMammal

    great PR for over priced vapourware

    I have to say at $800 it wasn't an impulse buy (even with the price drops along the way). Compare that to, say, a new known commodity like a Nexus4 for $299 or even the bright Orange ZTE Firefox OS phone for $80 (crap phone plus unknown viability) and I'm impressed that they got the interest they did.

    My 2c is that maybe it would be cheaper to aim for a ROM image on some existing hardware to prove the OS and *then* a v2 with all the bells and whistles on a new platform. I'm sure HTC would love someone else to cling to while they try and work out how many variants of the One they can produce until their own engineers go insane trying to differentiate them!

    1. exanime

      Re: great PR for over priced vapourware

      I agree with you that $800 wasn't an impulse buy but comparing what the Edge was supposed to be with a Nexus 4 or a Firefox OS phone would be like comparing the design of a Porshe with the next standar Ford Fiesta...

      The Edge was supposed to do so much more than just a smartphone and even at $800 it did way more than the high end smartphones out there that come very close in price

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    we can all tell Shuttleworth our bright ideas of what he should do, and the idea that gets 32M upvotes should be forwarded to Canonical to implement

  11. Robert E A Harvey

    wrong choice

    Well, Indigogone wanted me to create a paypal account before throwing money at him.

    So I didn't

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Wasn't the Ubuntu edge a more updated version of the Motorola Atrix which would convert into a full linux PC when you docked it in its special docking station or laptop?

    Motorola didn't have much look selling them and ended up discontinuing them, even though i think as a concept a phone/PC is a good idea since many phones now have as much processing power and memory as a laptop from a few years ago. And my 5 year old Dell laptop still does everything i want it to do

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the CEO of Canonical ( A private company) has so little faith in a project that he isn't even willing to finance half of it through his own resources, then why should I contribute?

    I like Ubuntu. I have it on my work and home PC's, and with the PRISM horsecrap a Linux OS on my phone would rock, but geez buddy. You already employ engineers. Use some of them to develop an Ubuntu phone OS and then partner with an established phone company to produce the hardware for you. I'm sure HTC and / or Nokia would love to talk to you. It would be faster and cheaper to work with someone who knows what they are doing. Trying to produce custom hardware and software yourself is like reinventing a hexagonal wheel.

    Grassroots funding should not be used by established companies with existing products for sale.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proof at last

    The world clearly doesn't give a crap about Ubunununununtu, Leenawks or any of this F/OSS shit.

    The world wants stuff that works, works now, works well and doesn't need three PhDs to understand.

    The epic failure of this experiment was clear to any sane person from the get-go. How much money Shuttleworth has left to waste of his white elephant is anyone's guess. But it won't be much.

    Soon the funds will dry up, Ubununununununtu will die and Linux will wither with it. It's already losing share in its traditional space as folks switching to things that actually work.

    1. HippyFreetard

      Re: Proof at last

      No! Linux is great! Supercomputers! US Navy! Ernie Ball! Freeedoooom! City of Munich...


      Silly me.

      Nice one ;)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, well

    It was a nice experiment ... there were too many things going against it for it to succeed. However, there will be another and it will have a less dangerous design from real product designers and it will piss off fewer people by being a little less of an ambitious desktop replacement - some people are very touchy about that kind of thing. It will be a nice little low cost Ubuntu phone that you can't use to hurt yourself or anybody else.

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  17. Shannon Jacobs

    Partition the project in a MANAGED mannger

    The main reason I don't support crowd-funded projects is the lack of project management at the level of the funding organization. I actually expect that this massive project had relatively mature project planning, but if I don't financially support Ubuntu through his existing websites, why would I find this approach better? Is it supposed to be an advertising or trendy thing?

    Let me repeat the ancient suggestion for "reverse auction charity shares". The projects should be planned in a managed way, including a reasonable scale and success criteria against a KNOWN budget. If they get more supporters, then the price per share should go down. AFTER each project is completed, it should be evaluated, and THEN you can consider what additional projects should follow it.

    If Ubuntu was responsive to the users, I bet that there are still a lot of us who would be funding ongoing support for some of the older versions. The latest and greatest Ubuntu is consistently driven by programmers who want to program for hardware I do not want to buy for the sake of running Ubuntu. My own real-world and residual uses for Ubuntu are for older machines--that Ubuntu will no longer run on or support, even for security patches.

    1. Shannon Jacobs

      Re: Partition the project in a MANAGED mannger

      When I said "Ubuntu" will no longer support, I think I was supposed to refer to Canonical or some other entity.

      The situation now is that I've mostly lost interest in and quit using Ubuntu, though at one point I had high hopes for it as a real-world populist alternative to the tyrannies of Microsoft and Apple. How is Ubuntu managed these days? I don't know and I no longer care.

  18. HippyFreetard
    Paris Hilton


    Just imagine him on the Dragon's Den show.

    "You can barely shift an operating system you give away for free, you have zero experience in the smartphone industry, and yet you want us to fund an expensive smartphone concept based on your operating system? Not only that, but you want us to fund every penny of your product, but with no control over the product's future? Not only that, but your entire marketing research and marketing strategy, is to turn up on this show and ask for funding?"

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