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Ubuntu Edge crowdfund campaign breaks records, fails spectacularly

As anticipated, despite hoping for a last-minute push, the Ubuntu Edge project on Indiegogo has failed. At closing, it had $12 809 906 pledged, but backers won’t see any money from their accounts because the final amount is far short of the $32-million that would be needed to make the project a reality.

In a note on the project page, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth writes that they’ve learned a few lessons, and touts that the Ubuntu Edge project’s record-breaking fundraising amount is the world’s biggest ever crowdfunding campaign. Crucially, he didn’t add “successful” anywhere in there, as the Pebble Smartwatch retains that crown with its $10 266 845 raised on Kickstarter.

The campaign’s failure leaves nearly 20 000 disappointed backers. Shuttleworth writes that both individuals and businesses contributed, with Bloomberg LP contributing $80 000 to the project. He thanks them, and the greater Ubuntu community who arranged a great load of PR for the campaign to help it get traction.

But then, that’s probably what this was all about. In his letter he says that the big winner here is Ubuntu. Thanks to a month in the headlines, the Linux distribution has got itself a good bit of PR from this exercise, all for the cost of running a campaign on Indiegogo. Even if the project did succeed, the funds from those who pledged would’ve paid for the device – hence the huge funding goal.

Those who want an Ubuntu phone can still take solace in the fact that Ubuntu’s major push at the moment is to have a unified touch-enabled version of the operating system available next year. This should run on mobile phones, tablets, and regular laptops – and perhaps then, with a working operating system, more users might be enticed by the idea of an Ubuntu phone.

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