Ubuntu Edge smartphone probably not going to get funded

Ambitious crowdfunding smartphone project shatters records, but looks to be coming up short.

The Ubuntu Edge, an innovative smartphone concept that is designed to double as a dockable PC, appears unlikely to meet its $32 million funding goal by the IndieGoGo campaign deadline of 11:59 p.m. PST.

At the time of this writing, the total amount raised by Canonical sits at just over $12 million, leaving $20 million to be raised in just under 18 hours. Despite having comfortably set a record for online crowdfunding – the previous holder was the $10+ million for the Pebble smartwatch on Kickstarter – there’s little hope that the ambitious goal will be met, which means that backers will get their money back under the terms of the campaign.

[MORE: How ambitious is Canonical's $32 million Ubuntu Edge crowd-funding campaign?]

Wealthy Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth has already ruled out stepping in at the last minute to ensure the program is funded in a Reddit AMA, saying that this “would not be in the spirit of the project.”

Ubuntu Edge

Credit: Ubuntu.com

The purchase of an $80,000 corporate package – including 100 Edge devices and several support services – by Bloomberg earlier this month spurred some optimism that business users  could help pull the Edge across the line, but the campaign’s IndieGoGo page still only lists one taker for the big bundle.

As impressive as the Edge’s concept was – a high-end superphone that can also be used as a fully functioning desktop PC – the high price tag and speculative nature of the design likely turned off some potential investors. Absent the carrier subsidies through which most users in the U.S. purchase phones, the Edge’s $700 price looks quite steep, particularly for a device that, at best, wouldn’t actually ship until May 2014, and whose final specifications have yet to be confirmed.

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

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