I’m usually fairly pragmatic about my technology purchases, but last night was an exception. Just after dinner I pledged $600 USD to Indiegogo for a high-powered mobile device that may or may not ever see the light of day. It’s called the Ubuntu Edge.
Despite a net worth of some $500 million, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has decided to crowdfund the company’s first smartphone, seeking to raise $32 million in a do-or-die campaign.
To quote Shuttleworth: “It’s a crazy, beautiful idea.”
I don’t need to tell you that crowdfunding is all the rage right now. But this particular campaign is proving to be a lightning rod for the Linux community. On reddit, the Indiegogo listing is currently among the top posts at r/Linux and r/Android; if you read through the comments there you’ll see that there’s a genuine desire to break the duopoly of Android and iOS.
Of the other contenders, Jolla is a joke. Strategic partners in China? Good luck against the likes of Meizu and Xiaomi… And Firefox is playing it far too safe, launching their HTML5-based mobile OS only on low-end hardware.
But with the Ubuntu Edge Shuttleworth gets it right. From his on-camera pitch:
With this project for the first time you will have the ability to try the most exciting technologies long before everyone else.
Pragmatically speaking this is a low-risk investment, but I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that it’s ultimately an emotional purchase. I want a successful open-source alternative to Android, but I also want a cool high-end phone. And if a limited production run increases its snob appeal, so much the better.
As expected the first 5,000 reduced-priced units are now sold out. Some redditors are betting that Shuttleworth will swoop in at the eleventh hour of this 30-day campaign and kick in the remainder of the $32 million himself. Fingers crossed…