Ubuntu Edge smartphone funding levels dying off

An initial rush of enthusiasm powered by limited lower prices and widespread publicity seems to be flagging

The first heady rush of support for Canonical’s crowd-funded Ubuntu Edge smartphone appears to have tapered off, as donations for the eye-catching device have slowed substantially over the past several days.

The project sits just above the $7 million mark at the time of this writing – a large sum by the standards of crowd-funded projects, to be sure, but the $32 million goal is still a long way off.

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The Edge is slightly, but measurably, behind schedule – by about $600,000, according to a tracking graph made by Canonical’s Gustavo Niemeyer.

Based on the average rate of funding thus far, the IndieGoGo project looks likely to fall just short of its goal. Public opinion as to why the Edge is running out of steam generally centers on the hefty $775 donation required to reserve a unit at its early 2014 release.

Put simply, the price seems to be too high for many potential buyers. While the device’s effective price tag isn’t that much higher than that of a high-end off-contract phone, it’s still a large sum of money to pay for a smartphone that won’t arrive for half a year or more.

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“It’s hard to commit $800 towards a phone that might not ever be produced when you can spend $300 on a very polished phone that you can have immediately,” wrote reddit user davidhoude.

However, there’s speculation that wealthy Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth might contribute some of his personal fortune to the project. Linux Action Show pundit Matt Hartley says that Shuttleworth could step in to push the project over the line if it’s just short of its goal by the August 21 end date.

“I think [he] has a press release or something up his sleeve; some big bang to shoot off at the end there that’s basically going to help push them over,” he said.

Publicly, of course, Canonical remains bullish on the Edge’s prospects. Head of engineering Victor Palau told InfoWorld senior analyst Ted Samson that the Edge could be compelling to forward-thinking businesses with an eye on the future.

“Ubuntu Edge is a change agent, which not only encourages higher mobility, but will also drive faster adoption of SaaS via either Remote Desktop technologies (when docked to a monitor) or standard Web 2.0 business applications like Salesforce that can be easily accessed from both platforms,” he said.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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