Canonical Pushes Linux to the Edge With Bloomberg Backing

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2013-08-08 Print this article Print
smartphone innovation

The goal is to raise $32 million in 30 days to build 40,000 Ubuntu Edge next-generation smartphones.

Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system, is on a mission to raise $32 million in 30 days, to build 40,000 Ubuntu Edge next-generation smartphones. It's an effort that just received the backing of financial news media giant Bloomberg LP. Will other enterprises buy into the effort?

The Ubuntu Edge is a plan to build a dual-boot smartphone device with both Android and Ubuntu Linux on it. Initial specs for the Edge include a pure Sapphire Crystal Screen, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. In late July, Canonical kicked off its Ubuntu Edge effort on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, and company executives remain optimistic about this endeavor. In crowdfunding, individuals (the crowd) contribute toward the development of a project—as opposed to a company raising money through venture capital.

"We knew that the goals we set were ambitious and we'd have to smash every record to achieve them, but we've started to do that already," Victor Palau, vice president of mobile delivery at Canonical, told eWeek. "As with every crowdfunding campaign, we have seen a slowdown after the first week's fanfare, but we expected this to happen."

With only 14 days to go in the campaign, Canonical has raised more than $8 million in funding from its community. It's not just individuals buying into the campaign, financial services firm Bloomberg LP has pledged $80,000 to the campaign. Bloomberg's contribution will give them what Canonical refers to as an "Enterprise 100" perk of 100 Ubuntu Edge phones. The Enterprise 100 perk also includes access to best-practice workshops and 30 days of online support.

As to how Bloomberg and Canonical got together, Palau said that a number of key people from Bloomberg LP were at the recent OSCON (Open Source Conference), where Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth introduced the Ubuntu Edge.

"We were already talking to Bloomberg on other topics, so for them, getting in touch with us was easy," Palau said.

Currently, there are 49 additional Enterprise 100 perks available for other enterprises to donate toward. Palau noted that the phone purchasing process in organizations is a complex process, and the Enterprise perk is a simpler way for enterprises to get involved.


Initially, Canonical had stated that individuals who contribute $600 on the first day of the campaign and $830 any day thereafter will receive a new Ubuntu Edge phone. That plan is now changing, with Canonical dropping the price of the phone to $695. Those that have already pledged $830 will get a refund of the difference. Palau said that Canonical's hardware partners have helped them reduce the price of the phone.

"Overall, we feel that the support we have received from the community has helped with one of the wider goals of the campaign," Palau said. "That is to help push the boundaries of innovation and prove demand for cutting-edge technologies to reach the mass market."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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