The Ubuntu Edge crowdfunded Indiegogo campaign ended in failure yesterday, raising US$12,812,776 of its $32 million goal.
Despite setting a crowdfunding record, the month-long campaign only raised enough money for 17,215 phones out of the 40,000 needed for funding. The campaign’s 27,488 donors will have their pledges fully returned, since Indiegogo is forsaking its usual cut from failed projects.
The Ubuntu Edge was designed and marketed as more than just a phone. A smartphone that would’ve doubled as a full computer, the Ubuntu Edge had dual-boot capabilities between Android and the Ubuntu mobile OS, and included support for monitor, mouse and keyboard attachments.
Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical (the open-source software company behind Ubuntu), went as far as comparing the Ubuntu Edge to a Formula One racing car in a video on the Indiegogo page.
Shuttleworth is still optimistic, though. In a statement after the clock ran out, he touted the success of the campaign in drumming up support and attention for Ubuntu, on top of driving registration for the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group.
“So ends a crazy month,” he wrote. “We’ve broken records, we’ve been written and talked about across the world, we’ve worn out our F5 keys, and we’ve learned a lot of invaluable lessons about crowdfunding. Our bold campaign to build a visionary new device ultimately fell short, but we can take away so many positives.”
In an interview with The Guardian on Monday, Shuttleworth hoped for last-minute “approaches from industry players” that never came. The donors were made up almost entirely of consumers, except for an $80,000 donation from the one corporate backer, Bloomberg LP. Bloomberg took only one out of 50 Enterprise 115 smartphone bundles offered.
“The Bloomberg gesture was fantastic,” Shuttleworth said. “I think they got involved because they could see they could restructure their IT.”
Shuttleworth also talked about the current smartphone market and why the world needs Ubuntu mobile. He criticized the dominance of Apple and Google, and the inefficient distribution and overpriced hardware of the current smartphone market.
“There is an effective duopoly in mobile between Android and Apple,” he said. “BlackBerry and Nokia are both struggling. Then there’s the three mobile Linux OSes: Firefox OS, Tizen and Ubuntu Mobile. The impression we have from conversations with manufacturers is that they are open to an alternative to Android. And end users don’t seem emotionally attached to Android… Every Ubuntu device would be additive to the whole ecosystem of devices.”
In the wake of the campaign’s failure, Ubuntu, Canonical and Shuttleworth still consider themselves winners.
“The big winner from this campaign is Ubuntu,” he wrote in his statement. “The support and attention received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014. Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won’t have much longer to wait.”