With Just Hours Left, The World’s First PC-Phone Hybrid Still Needs $19 Million

The Ubuntu Edge sets a crowdsourcing record toward its $32 million goal, but will it ever get made?

There are 35 hours left and $20,060,108 needed in Canonical’s IndieGogo crowdsourcing campaign for the Ubuntu Edge, the world’s first PC-phone hybrid. If Canonical raises anything less than its $32 million goal, contributors will get their pledges back, and the yet-to-exist superphone will skulk back to the land of unrealized tech dreams.


Founder Mark Shuttlesworth presents the concept as a kind of Batmobile of phones, with all “the raw power of a PC.” It’s already set the world’s crowdsourcing record, with 25,000-plus funders and more than $11.9 million raised. But Canonical can’t settle for a record alone. They want to “start a revolution” built on the power of the collective: “The future is already here,” said Shuttlesworth in a campaign update. “It’s just not widely distributed. We’re working to put it in the hands of 40,000 people.”

Pledgers of $695 are promised a limited-edition Ubuntu Edge in May 2014. This phone doubles as a PC and it’s cheaper than the Apple iPhone 5 ($849) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 ($750). Plus, ownership will be exclusive to IndieGogo backers–the phone won’t be commercially available. Just imagine how special you’d feel.

“At the heart of it all is convergence,” says the campaign. “Connect to any monitor and this Ubuntu phone transforms into an Ubuntu PC, with a fully integrated desktop OS and shared access to all files.” A chart breaks down the rest, comparing the Edge’s design with that of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike our current vulnerable screens, the Ubuntu Edge is protected with “Sapphire Crystal,” which can be scratched only by diamonds. And for maximum longevity, it’s powered with a “silicone anode li-ion” battery, not just a plain old li-ion, because, psh. Its camera is designed especially for low-lighting, color accuracy, and brightness. And with 128 GB of storage, the Ubuntu promises to be the heavyweight champion of the phone world, cruelly embarrassing the Samsung weighing in at a mere 16 GB.

The word Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term that roughly translates to “human kindness.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu defined it in a 1999 book: “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others … based from a self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole.”

Is this enlightenment part of the superphone package? What else could they have up their supersleeves?

Canonical concedes that they’ve placed a tall order, but explains that they set their sights on such an astronomical crowdfunding goal in order to decrease unit prices and select parts “not yet proven for multi-million-unit production.”


A $695 donation could secure you a place in the future phone-owning elite, but even $50 could make you a part of the launch of a potentially game-changing invention, with a special T-shirt as proof. To make a donation, click here.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.