Canonical Looking To Fund Dual-Boot Ubuntu Edge Smartphone Through $32 Million Indiegogo Campaign

Canonical is taking a progressive, innovative approach to its invasion of the mobile industry. We’ve seen its Ubuntu for mobile in action, and the OS is slick and smooth, but the company is working on hardware, too, which is taking the form of the Ubuntu Edge smartphone.

It’s still a prototype, but the thing looks impressive; the look is classy, with understated, sharp slanted angles, and future models will be built of a single piece of textured metal. Canonical says that it will have a 4.5-inch display made from sapphire crystal instead of glass (which allegedly only diamonds can scratch), the fastest quad-core mobile processor available, at least 4GB of RAM, and at least 128GB of onboard storage.

Ubuntu Edge smartphone prototype
Ubuntu Edge prototype

The camera will be optimized for low-light photos and fast response, and the battery will be a silicon anode component, which should provide extended battery life and superb power density.

The "Big Idea" here, though, apart from developing an incredibly high-end phone, is “convergence”. Canonical wants to make a device that dual-boots both Ubuntu OS and Android, which will make both consumers and developers happy; the smartphone will also be able to function as a full PC when docked with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Ubuntu Edge smartphone prototype

Canonical is clear on the point that it doesn’t want to get into the handset business per se--rather, the Ubuntu Edge will be created in a limited production run and billed as more of a high-end platform for development. (If things work out, though, Canonical might try to do runs like these every year.)

In order to finance the operation, the company has launched an Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource funds. How much are they asking? $32 million. That’s eight figures, folks: $32,000,000. With that kind of scratch, Canonical should really be able to do whatever they want with the Ubuntu Edge from R&D to production. You can get in on the action and secure an Ubuntu Edge for a $600 pledge.

Ubuntu for mobile

Whether or not Canonical is successful, the whole approach is wonderfully refreshing. It’s bold, to be sure, but this is the kind of thinking that shakes up an industry in all the best ways.

However, there’s something of an asterisk under the surface here. Back at CES when we saw the Ubuntu in action on a mobile device, Canonical said that they were looking for hardware partners to develop a handset (or handsets, plural) to run the OS and software. This campaign, for as innovative as it may be, seems to indicate that the company never found a suitable hardware partner, not even from its CAG.

Ubuntu Edge dual boot PC
It's a phone! It's a PC!

Perhaps that’s because Canonical had standards too exacting and potentially costly for any hardware makers to jump in, but perhaps it’s simply that nobody was interested. One hopes that it’s the former (or even better, than Canonical decided to buck convention and go rogue), because the entire concept is tantalizing for anyone keen to see the mobile industry move forward.