“Convergence is the future of computing,” says Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical founder, in his Indiegogo campaign video. Shuttleworth has initiated the most ambitious crowd-funding project of all time – aiming to raise $32 million to build a “superphone” that can serve as both a smartphone and desktop computer.
“It's crazy and bold, but that's what it takes to bring a new device to market,” Shuttleworth said in an interview with Tech Radar. “It's a test of the future, because the phone industry really can't do this.”
The Ubuntu Edge is designed for enthusiasts, with incredibly high specs that go above and beyond what a typical smartphone user requires. Aside from selecting the “fastest multi-core processor” on the market, Shuttleworth promises at least 4GB of RAM and a mammoth 128GB of internal storage.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“The point of the Edge is to break new ground – in this round we really want to stretch the RAM and storage of the device. We're trying to cross that chasm between phone and PC and be the superphone,” said Shuttleworth.
Shuttleworth’s team at Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, landed on 4.5 inches as the perfect size for a handheld device. The focus will be on color, brightness, and dynamic range – not pixel density. Rather than using Corning’s popular Gorilla Glass, the Edge will be protected by sapphire crystal. It is the same material used for high-end Swiss watches, and can only be scratched by diamond.
As for connectivity, Shuttleworth says that the Edge will feature dual LTE antennas “for full-speed 4G in both Europe and the USA.” Silicon anode technology will give the Edge extended battery life while keeping the phone light and thin.
Ubuntu is a software company first, so the Edge will squeeze both Ubuntu and Android operating systems into one package. “You can keep using your existing app collection and experience full convergence right away with Ubuntu for Android,” explained Shuttleworth.
The Indiegogo campaign, launched today, gives Canonical 30 days to reach its goal. As of 5:00pm on July 23 (Tokyo time), just under $3.3 million has been pledged. The lowest denomination that will secure backers an actual Edge handset is $600 – but that increment has already sold out. The next level requires a lofty $830 pledge.
“If it succeeds, it's fantastic, and then it will be a lot of work,” Shuttleworth said to Tech Radar. “If it doesn't work, I hope that what we'll have done is raise awareness of the crowd-funding mechanism to drive innovation.”