Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu smartphone-PC hybrid is back

Remember Canonical founder and South African tech entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth‘s Ubuntu Edge smartphone-PC hybrid from back in 2013? The high profile attempt to Kickstart Canonical’s flagship phone was mothballed soon after it didn’t reach its $32 million crowd-funded goal. While there have been Ubuntu phones released since, they haven’t quite had the same level of ambition as the awesome looking Edge.

The Ubuntu Edge was touted as a smartphone by day, fully-fledged PC by night as it would have all the components to make phone calls as well as serve as a complete desktop computer. In order to do that, Shuttleworth insisted that the Edge had 4GB of RAM while running the full Ubuntu Linux operating system.

But after it failed to reach its $32 million funding goal in August of 2013, the smartphone hybrid disappeared from public view – until now. Shuttleworth said yesterday that he will oversee the development of another hybrid with an unnamed partner, to be released before the end of the year.

During a video interview with Ubuntu OnAir, Shuttleworth explained that the device will still be able to connect to an external display, keyboard and mouse, which will turn it into a desktop computer. Disconnect all those wires and you have yourself a swanky smartphone.

The goal of developing Ubuntu into a converged operating system that works as well on a phone as it does on a desktop has been an ongoing one for many years now, but after the failure of the Edge has fallen behind schedule somewhat. The latest version of Ubuntu, 15.04 which was released last month, featured a common code base for phones and desktops, but not true cross-platform compatibility.

“I would like to announce that we are going to ship a device this year with a manufacturer that will fit in your pocket, which will be a phone and which will give you a desktop experience,” Shuttleworth said.

“So that pocket PC experience is real on Ubuntu and while I enjoy the race, I also like to win. So it would be lovely for us to drive free software first into the convergence world,” he explained.

You can watch the hour-long interview with Shuttleworth below, or you can skip to the 08:55 mark to listen to Shuttleworth announce his plans for the smartphone-PC hybrid contraption.


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