Ubuntu Edge Hits $10.3 Million, Shatters Crowdfunding Record

Might fall short of ambitious $32 million goal
By Ram Srinivasan
Ram Srinivasan
Ram Srinivasan
August 16, 2013 Updated: August 16, 2013

Linux company Canonical‘s ambitious crowdfunding smartphone project, Ubuntu Edge, broke crowdfunding records by hitting $10.3 million in bookings, but that might still not help the company hit its “moonshot” goal of $32 million required to actually produce the Ubuntu Edge smartphone.

Canonical hit the record on the morning of August 16th U.S. time, helping it best previous record-holder Pebble Watch which had raised $10.26 million on crowdfunding website Kickstarter for its smart watch device. Canonical put up its Ubuntu Edge smartphone concept on another crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

Canonical announced the achievement on Indiegogo this morning saying “This morning the Ubuntu Edge passed the $10,266,845 raised by the Pebble smartwatch to become the world’s biggest ever fixed crowdfunding campaign.”

Canonical had previously broken other crowdfunding records as part of the Ubuntu Edge campaign; it became the fastest project to hit $2 million in funding (in just under 8 hours), and the highest ever 24-hour total (of $3.45 million).

But Canonical has made the Ubuntu Edge a “fixed funding” project on Indiegogo, which means that it will only be able to collect the money if it hits the complete $32 million goal. The Ubuntu Edge project page on Indiegogo states, “This campaign will only receive funds if at least $32,000,000 is raised by its deadline.”

Canonical, based in the U.K. and headed by South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, develops Ubuntu, a popular open-source desktop operating system based on Linux. While Ubuntu is popular among engineers as an open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS on desktops and laptops, Shuttleworth has been pushing Ubuntu to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The crowdfunding drive for Ubuntu Edge is believed to be Canonical’s effort to drive interest in, as well as commercial production of, mobile devices that run Ubuntu by default. Part of the reason for its overwhelming success is the popularity of Ubuntu and Canonical’s branding among engineers.

But will Ubuntu Edge succeed? With about 30% of funds in and only six days to go, it seems unlikely, even after a massive $80,000 corporate sponsorship from financial media Bloomberg a few days ago.

But as others point out, even if Ubuntu Edge fails, the PR generated from the event might mean that Canonical’s mission of eventually getting Ubuntu on devices is successful.

Ram Srinivasan
Ram Srinivasan