Android/Ubuntu crowd-sourced smartphone nets $3.7m donations in 3 days

Canonical's plan to raise $32 million in a month via crowd-sourcing website Indiegogo so it can ship a smartphone running Ubuntu and Android, which also doubles as a PC, appears to have got off to a roaring start.

Ubuntu Edge was introduced by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth on Monday 22 July, who told journalists the venture aims to plug an "innovation gap". The project will initially see 40,000 handsets created and shipped in May 2014, but only if the founding goal of $32 million is met (the equivalent of raising $1 million per day).

The plan is to ship the device with a dual-OS Android is present when handset is being used as smartphone and Ubuntu kicks in when the user plugs it into a monitor to use as a PC.

Since the initiative was first announced, the company has raked in more than $3.7 million in donations, an achievement the firm trumpted in a website post yesterday.

"We hit $1 million in under five hours, and $2 million not long after that. We've now passed the 10% line, which shows just how much demand there is out there for the Edge's radical new approach to mobile technology," the post stated.

"Thank you for all your support, both in backing the campaign and getting it out there for all to see - at one point yesterday our new baby was trending higher on Twitter than a certain royal one!"

Backers who signed up to the project on Day One (22 July) will get a handset for a discounted $600 (394). Those donating thereafter will have to pay $830 (592) if they would like to receive a device.

However, yesterday's blog post also saw the firm announce plans to offer users two Ubuntu Edge phones for $1,400, as part of an offer it has dubbed Double Edge.

Confirmed specifications include a 4.5in display (1,280 x 720), 8-megapixel camera, 4GB or RAM and 128GB of internal storage. However, Shuttleworth acknowledged that specifications are subject to change before the release date.

"Some of them [specifications] are concrete on the storage front we modelled our usage on netbooks and lightweight laptops and figured that 128GB was futureproof for this generation of mobile PCs. Also there's a physical size constraint there," Shuttleworth said during the briefing.

"From a RAM point of view we think 4GB is ahead of what any other phones will [have]. There isn't much drive to put more memory in phones at the moment because essentially they've completely got the ability to drive the screens which [use the] major of phone memory. We need the ability to drive two screens at once."

Questions about core specifications still remained unanswered though. Shuttleworth was unable to disclose which manufacturer will be creating the Ubuntu Edge or whether ARM or Intel chipsets would be used.

"We're in open conversations to select the best part and as the question was raised earlier that is something we may be able to give our backers a say in," he said in response to IT Pro.

"We have good experience on both sides of that architectural fence and we'll see you know what present the best performance capabilities for this convergence device."

*This article was originally published on 22 July, and was updated on 24 July to reflect the progress Canonical has made with its fund raising efforts.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.