Crowdfunding is, in many ways, one of the best things to come from the Internet. It’s brought hundreds of products and projects to fruition. OK, so most of them suck, but the Internet hasn’t conquered the law of averages, really.
Still, you’ve got to admire the chutzpah of Canonical, the nerds who curate and distribute Ubuntu. They think there’s enough demand for a smartphone featuring their operating system that they can get $32 million for it. Seriously.
In the car industry, Formula 1 provides a commercial testbed for cutting-edge technologies. The Ubuntu Edge project aims to do the same for the mobile phone industry — to provide a low-volume, high-technology platform, crowdfunded by enthusiasts and mobile computing professionals. A pioneering project that accelerates the adoption of new technologies and drives them down into the mainstream.
Or, if video is your thing, here is Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth explaining it. Try to ignore the fact that he looks a lot like Will Forte.
And if you act now, you can get this cutting-edge phone for just $600! No, seriously, you’ll only be able to buy the phone at that price through the end of tomorrow, via this IndieGoGo. For everybody who delays, it’s $830. Or you can give them $20 and feel “the warm feeling that comes from supporting open-source.”
So, for your money you get a great phone, right? Well… no, actually. The display is going to be fixed at 300 ppi because they think the display arms race is a “distraction”. But you’ll get the fastest available processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128 GB of space. And of course those specs are totally locked i-oh, no, wait, they’re “subject to change”. OK then!
The total amount is slightly less, or more, insane when you realize that it’s mostly built on selling enterprise packs and the like. Still, $32 million is a lot to ask, especially since you’ll probably be able to get Ubuntu on an existing handset if you really want it come October.
It’s also ambitious. In order to collect a nickel of that money, Canonical is not only going to have to pull off the largest crowdfunding campaign ever orchestrated, they’re going to have to make more than three times what the most successfully crowdfunded device made so far, the Pebble smartwatch, pulled in. True, you should never underestimate the fanatical devotion of the Linux nerd. And they’ll probably have made $1 million by the end of the day. Still, we’re not sure giving $32 million to a bunch of people who’ve never built a smartphone before is such a great idea. We’ll see if the Internet agrees.