Today the makers of the Ubuntu operating system launched a ballsy campaign on Indiegogo. They are aiming to raise $32 million for the Ubuntu Edge, a prototype smartphone that the Ubuntu team sees as a proof of concept.
The promo video starts with the Ubuntu mantra
“Convergence is the future of computing.”
This essentially means that one operating system is going to be the basis of all devices you might want to own. For example the Ubuntu Edge smartphone will be so powerful that it has the same computing power as a desktop computer. Hence in the convergence scenario instead of switching from your smartphone to a computer at your workplace you would simply dock your Ubuntu Edge to a bigger screen and keyboard. This is also the strategy that Microsoft is more or less following with its “Metro” design of Windows Mobile Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8, but instead of one operating system Microsoft is running three.
Of course, there is the question if we really need another (mobile) operating system besides iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. But as most Ubuntu users are enthusiasts of the operating system there might be a sizeable market, something Ubuntu is trying to find out with the Indiegogo campaign.
The project already raised more money than the most successful Indiegogo campaign today. With more than $2 million and 30 days left Ubuntu might be able to reach the $32 million goal. What I find particularly ballsy is the fixed campaign model they chose. If Ubuntu Edge does not reach the $32 million goal all money is going back to the funders.
I think the Ubuntu Edge has some great features and you should watch the promo video in order to get a good overview. The price for the device is of course a bit hefty. On day one of the campaign you can preorder a Ubuntu Edge for $600, about the price of an unlocked iPhone 5. After the first batch of 5000 phones is gone the price for an Ubuntu Edge is going to be $830. And you have to wait until May 2014 for the first devices to be shipped. But all that won’t scare away real tech geeks and Ubuntu enthusiasts.
This campaign also reminded me of another smartphone that raised money via crowdfunding. The Dutch Fairphone wants to be the first ethically sourced smartphone. Many components and minerals used in smartphones come from regions where people suffer in order to provide us in the developed world with our favorite gadgets.
Fairphone’s premise is to only use “fair” components in order to create the first truly ethical device. And the price is right, as well. Other than the high end glitzy Ubuntu Edge a Fairphone is priced at €350 and the tech specs aren’t that bad, either.
The first batch is limited to 20.000 Fairphone devices, 11.648 have been sold until today. So the choice is yours. Do you want to have the next iPhone 5S, a new Google Nexus, a one of a kind Ubuntu phone, an ethical smartphone or none of the above?