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Friday, 23 August 2013 11:09

Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding drive falls $20 million short Featured

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The Ubuntu Edge, which will now not go into production The Ubuntu Edge, which will now not go into production Canonical

The much-publicised crowdfunding campaign to raise $32 million for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone has failed, missing its target by almost $20 million.

As we reported last month developer Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, was planning on building a converged device called the Ubuntu Edge that could serve as a mobile and, when docked, as a PC.

The company took to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise US$32 million to fund the smartphone, despite founder Mark Shuttleworth being a multimillionaire himself, and while it raised almost US$13 million from 27,488 funders, surpassing the previous crowdfunding record set by the Pebble smartwatch, it still fell well short of its target.

Canonical was planning on manufacturing 40,000 handsets with its free operating system for qualifying backers by next May, taking on Android and iOS devices head on.

At the time iTWire's Sam Varghese described it as "vapourware", and it would appear that's what the Ubuntu Edge will end up being.

All pledges will now be fully refunded.

Shuttleworth told the Guardian ahead of the deadline that if it failed, "It's definitely set a record for the most money raised, but also for the most missed in a campaign."

The South African entrepreneur insisted that despite the failure, carriers and handset makers are definitely interested in building handsets which will run the mobile Linux - but that they will not be the top-end "superphones" which the Edge project hoped to produce.

The company also released a statement to backers, below.

So ends a crazy month. We’ve broken records, we’ve been written and talked about across the world, we’ve worn out our F5 keys, and we’ve learned a lot of invaluable lessons about crowdfunding. Our bold campaign to build a visionary new device ultimately fell short, but we can take away so many positives.

We raised $12,809,906, making the Edge the world’s biggest ever fixed crowdfunding campaign. Let’s not lose sight of what an achievement that is. Close to 20,000 people believed in our vision enough to contribute hundreds of dollars for a phone months in advance, just to help make it happen. It wasn’t just individuals, either: Bloomberg LP gave $80,000 and several smaller businesses contributed $7,000 each. Thank you all for getting behind us.

Then there’s the Ubuntu community. Many of you gave your time as well as money, organising your own mailing lists, social media strategies and online ads, and successfully reaching out to your local media. We even saw entire sites created to gather information and help promote the Edge. We’ll be contacting our biggest referrers personally.

Most importantly, the big winner from this campaign is Ubuntu. While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014. Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won’t have much longer to wait.

All of the support and publicity has continued to drive our discussions with some major manufacturers, and we have many of the world’s biggest mobile networks already signed up to the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group. They’ll have been watching this global discussion of Ubuntu and the need for innovation very closely indeed. Watch this space!

As for crowdfunding, we believe it’s a great way to give consumers a voice and to push for more innovation and transparency in the mobile industry. And who knows, perhaps one day we’ll take everything we’ve learned from this campaign -- achievements and mistakes -- and try it all over again.


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