A month ago, South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth launched an ambitious project, through his company Canonical, to raise US$32m in a month in order to build a smartphone, the Ubuntu Edge, that would act as both a mobile phone and a portable desktop computer powered by the Ubuntu Mobile operating system.
The crowdfunding exercise was done through Indiegogo and raised $12,8m, well short of its target.
The crowdfunding initiative ended on Thursday, with the project failing to meet its (ambitious) target. Canonical raised more than $3m on the first day, but failed to maintain that early momentum.
The project managed to raise exactly $12 809 906 from more than 27 000 backers. Of those backers, 4 344 people contributed $20 in exchange for a mention on the Ubuntu Edge Founders page and 1 378 contributed $50 for this plus a t-shirt.
In order to get a handset, funders needed to contribute $695 — although this figure changed more than once during the funding period — which 5 674 people did. Meanwhile, eight people were willing to contribute $10 000 in exchange for one of the first 50, numbered Ubuntu Edge devices, along with e-mail access to the designers and engineers and an invitation to the phone’s launch event.
The highest contribution tier, which included 115 Ubuntu Edge phones, training and online support for companies wanting to use them in the workplace, cost $80 000 and had only one taker, Bloomberg — suggesting perhaps that the company, which provides financial terminals popular among stockbrokers and traders, may be keen on the idea of a “terminal in your pocket”.
Unlike rival crowdfunding site Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows project organisers to opt to keep the money they raise, even if a project doesn’t reach its target. But this must be stipulated at the start of the project. Canonical decided against this, meaning it has to return the funds raised.
Watch Shuttleworth announcing the Ubuntu Edge project last month:
In a statement on the project page, Shuttleworth says all contributors will receive their refunds within five working days.
“While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it 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,” Shuttleworth says.
On crowdfunding, Shuttleworth says Canonical believes “it’s a great way to give consumers a voice and to push for more innovation and transparency in the mobile industry. And, who knows, perhaps one day we’ll take everything we’ve learned from this campaign — achievements and mistakes — and try it all over again.”
Before the Ubuntu Edge, the largest amount raised on a crowdfunding platform was $10,3m on Kickstarter, for the Pebble smartwatch. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media