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What's 32 Million Dollars Between Friends?

on Tuesday, Jul. 23rd

The folks at software developer Canonical LTD., makes of the software platform Ubuntu, have a modest goal: to blow through every crowdfunding record there is and launch the "formula one" of mobile phones: the Ubuntu Edge

While the company is already in talks with major carriers about brining their vision for a smartphone to consumers, they want to create a device that will act as a high-end showcase for what their platform is capable of.

Ubuntu, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is an operating system that is updated every six months and is distributed for free. The $32 million dollar goal of the Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign is a far cry from free.

Here's another tidbit to raise your eyebrows: the campaign reward tiers start at $20–which will get you project updates and your name on the "Founders" page–and then leap right up to $830. That's what gets you the phone.

Of course, we're talking about an unlocked smartphone here. Ubuntu is popular with those who champion open source software and likely harbor an allergic reaction to the very idea of a carrier contract.

The economics of the campaign are not the most interesting aspect, however. That would be the vision of the future of computing that the company is putting forth:

(The) heart of it all is convergence: 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.

With 29 days to go the campaign has cleared just over $3.6 million. The proposition here is aimed at the technophiliest of technophiles, but I have to wonder if Canonical–whose core is built around a free product for which they sell technical support–has enough of a dormant marketplace to fuel a crowdfunding campaign of this scale.

The most successful tech crowdfunding campaign, the Pebble E-Paper watch, raised just $10,266,845 on Kickstarter. If the Ubuntu Edge campaign had to rely on single-phone purchases alone the company would have to get pledges for 38,555 units. IndieGoGo, unlike Kickstarter, does not limit the number of units a creator may offer as a reward, so there is an Enterprise-class tier in the campaign that offers up 100 phones as part of the rewards. Of the 50 bundles offered, none have been claimed as of press time.

h/t Jon Poritsky

We'll talk about the Ubuntu Edge and more on this week's edition of The CrowdCrowd podcast. Subscribe to the podcast podcast via RSS or on iTunes.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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