As expected, Canonical failed to meet the $32 million target for its crowdfunding effort designed to support the creation of its Ubuntu Edge smartphones, although it put a positive spin on the failure by arguing “we can take away so many positives”.
Under the terms of the Indiegogo campaign, if the company failed to reach its aim all funds are returned to backers. It closed with pledges worth $12.81 million, or 40 per cent of its target.
In a blog post, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, highlighted that the $12.81 million is “the world’s biggest ever fixed crowdfunding campaign”.
He said that “close to 20,000 individuals” contributed for a phone in advance, Bloomberg paid $80,000 for an enterprise partnership, and three smaller businesses offered $7,000 each.
“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”, Shuttleworth said.
But with the goal not now having been met, Ubuntu Edge will not go forward in the form planned.
In many ways the crowdfunding campaign was bold and unusual. Trying to convince buyers to pay a premium for a device that has not even reached the prototype stage is difficult enough, but attempting to raise enough cash to fund its development as well is an especially tall order.
Certainly Canonical seems to have overestimated the demand for an Ubuntu outside of a small and dedicated niche.
And the way in which Canonical has gone about it has also been remarkable – for all the talk of the biggest ever crowdfunding campaign, it fell well short of its target in a very public way.
Of course, there is more to Ubuntu in the smartphone space than Ubuntu Edge alone. Shuttleworth said that “all of the support and publicity has continued to drive our discussions with some major manufacturers” – the company has not so-far announced a vendor that plans to support the OS.
Shuttleworth previously told Mobile World Live that the company has a “silicon lead” for the project, with the intention to offer reference designs to manufacturers.
And a number of notable names have signed for the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group, who can provide valuable input and support in talking Ubuntu from 20,000 enthusiasts into the mass market. Partners on-board include China Unicom, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile US.