Ubuntu's plan to merge the desktop computer and mobile device is taking shape today in form of the Edge, which it's aiming to bring to market in May of next year for $830 outright. True to Canonical's community driven roots, the company is turning to crowd-funding to get the device on its feet. It's aiming to raise $32 million, and to that end, Canonical's launching a campaign on Indiegogo today, which provides early backers the opportunity to snag the phone for $600. According to company founder, Mark Shuttleworth, the Indiegogo route isn't meant to compete with its strategy of courting carriers for its mainstream smartphone project. Rather, it's meant to solve an "innovation gap" that's arisen during talks with manufacturers over its grander vision.
The Ubuntu Edge is a very ambitious smartphone that'll be capable of running a full-fledged Ubuntu desktop operating system alongside Android. While specs are currently tentative, the company is aiming to outfit the Edge with a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Meanwhile, the phone itself will sport a 4.5-inch, 1,280 x 720 display that's constructed of sapphire crystal glass, an 8MP rear / 2MP front-facing camera and stereo speakers. As for connectivity, Canonical's eyeing LTE, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, along with MHL support.
If the converged device strategy strikes your fancy, you'll find good incentive to be among the early backers. According to Shuttleworth, the Edge will only come to market if backers make it happen, as "none of the phone manufacturers are yet ambitious enough to try to put both things in one package." Regardless of whether the Indiegogo campaigns succeeds -- it'd be a record, if so -- Canonical will continue pursuing its strategy to bring a more basic Ubuntu smartphone to market. Recently, the company announced the first of its partner carriers, which includes Verizon, Deutsche Telecom, EE, SK Telecom, China Unicom and others. We're still waiting to see what type of smartphone might be offered through the carriers, but it's now clear that if you believe in the open source / converged device philosophy, you'll need to vote with your wallet.
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CANONICAL LAUNCHES BIGGEST EVER CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO DEVELOP GROUNDBREAKING UBUNTU EDGE SUPERPHONE / PC COMBINATION
$32 Million, 30 Day Indiegogo Campaign Kicks Off July 22
London, 22nd July 2013 - Canonical today launches the biggest ever crowdfunding campaign to develop the Ubuntu Edge, converging mobile convenience with desktop power in a single device. The campaign aims to raise an unprecedented $32 million (£21.5 million) over 30 days on Indiegogo, for a limited production run of 40,000 devices.
Ubuntu Edge aims to be a catalyst for mobile innovation as well as hardware and software development. By supporting Ubuntu Edge, the Indiegogo and Ubuntu communities will be accelerating the adoption of these new technologies in mass-market consumer phones. Backers committing $600 (£394) on day one, or $830 (£532) thereafter, will receive one of these groundbreaking mobile devices in May 2014.
"Ubuntu Edge is the ultimate convergence device - challenging established norms for PCs and smartphones," said Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu. "The crowdfunding approach is a new way to prove demand for cutting edge technologies and new classes of devices; supporting the Ubuntu Edge is the best way to catalyze the next generation of personal devices from the industry."
The Ubuntu Edge will dual-boot Ubuntu phone OS and Android, and will transform into a PC when docked with a monitor, with the full Ubuntu desktop and shared access to all the phone's files. For this it needs the power of a PC, so Ubuntu Edge will be equipped with the latest, fastest components and a massive 128GB of storage. The exquisitely crafted device replaces the traditional glass screen with a pure Sapphire crystal, so tough it could only be scratched by diamond. It will also pioneer the use of long-life silicon anode battery technology. A special dual-LTE solution will all allow high-speed roaming with access to 4G-LTE broadband in both Europe and the US.
According to a recent report from The NPD Group1, 37 percent of consumers who used to access content on their PCs have switched to tablets and smartphones. Gartner also reported that worldwide PC shipments in Q1 2013 have dropped to their lowest levels since Q2 20092. Upon completion, the Ubuntu Edge will be the realization of Canonical's disruptive vision for a single operating system driving phones, tablets, conventional computers and TVs.
"The rise of smartphones and the recognition that productivity still requires a PC form factor suggest a great opportunity for a truly converged device," comments Victor Palau, VP Mobile Delivery at Canonical. "This campaign aims to deliver the finished article."
"To make the future of mobile happen we'll have to smash every record in crowdfunding 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."
Ubuntu Edge specifications: (subject to change)
· Dual-boot Ubuntu Edge into either Ubuntu or Android, and convert into a fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC
· Fast and powerful device with quad-core CPU and at least 4GB RAM
· 128GB of storage for photos, music, content
· 4.5in 1,280 x 720 display with scratch-resistant Sapphire crystal glass, the hardest natural substance after diamond
· Camera made for low-light, fast response and close up pictures: 8mp rear camera, 2mp front
· Faster connection all over the world with dual-LTE, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, NFC
· Stereo speakers (Active Noise Cancellation)
· Connect to HDMI TVs and monitors easily with MHL connector, 3.5mm jack
To get involved and become part of this community, visit http://igg.me/at/ubuntuedge.