Tech company Canonical has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the development of a smart phone that runs both Ubuntu and Android operating systems. The phone is planned to contain a mixture of standard and high-end hardware. On the conventional side, the phone will feature 4G LTE, an 8MP camera, and near-field communication chips, along with the usual array of sensors like GPS and accelerometers.
That’s where conventional ends, however. The device will sport a 128 GB hard drive and 4 GB of RAM. To put that in perspective, the iPhone 5 has 64 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM while the Galaxy S4 has 2 GB of RAM and only reaches 128 GB of storage with an expensive 64 GB microSD. Canonical also vaguely states that the Ubuntu Edge will feature “the fastest multi-core processor.” The screen will also be unique, as instead of glass it will be made with Aluminum Oxide, the basic crystal for Sapphire. Sapphire is incredibly scratch resistant: only Diamond, crystallized Boron, and a handful of substances even more obscure than crystallized Boron can scratch it.
What makes the phone really interesting isn’t just its hardware, but the source of it’s development. As I mentioned briefly, Canonical is crowd-funding the phone using an Indiegogo campaign. Crowd-funding involves raising money from the public in order to fund some kind of good or service in development. The public isn’t just donating out of the goodness of their hearts, of course; a crowd-funding campaign sets reward tiers that offer tangible benefits for giving over a certain amount. For example, the Ubuntu edge offers access to updates regarding the phone at lower levels, or an actual phone at higher ones, all the way up to a set of 100 phones at the highest tier.
Crowd-funding has another catch, however. The company or individual sets a target for collection, and if that target isn’t met all the money is returned. The Edge is poised to break records with a goal of a whopping $32 million. The number is not unheard of for major tech launches, and as such it offers the question of whether crowd-funding could be a viable way for companies to launch opensource products like the Edge in the future. Only time will tell if the Edge will make it to production and pave the way for the crowd-funding of bold new technologies in the future.