Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has launched a crowd-funding project to build the ultimate, cutting-edge phone and PC convergence device: Ubuntu Edge.
There's a lot going on there. Let's break this down, piece-by-piece.
It's a phone, and a good looking one at that, with a sapphire crystal cover over the 4.5-inch screen (which means you'll need diamonds in order to scratch it) and some pretty hefty guts. Canonical has confirmed 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, as well as the screen resolution – 1280x720. But which CPU will be utilized seems to be a bit up in the air, with Canonical simply declaring that it will use "the fastest multi-core CPU."
And, at launch, it will dual-boot Android and Ubuntu. Which is a decision I approve of whole-heartedly.
So, we have here a great, powerful phone. But that's only part of what Ubuntu Edge is about. It also doubles as a full Ubuntu desktop PC. In your pocket.
Connect a monitor over HDMI, add in a mouse and keyboard (presumably over Bluetooth), and shazam – you've got a full Ubuntu desktop PC experience powered entirely by your phone. This same functionality is going to be available whether you are running Android or Ubuntu Touch on the phone. All of which is very, very cool.
You may be thinking to yourself, “So, is Canonical now in the cellphone business?” According to them, no. Ubuntu Edge is more of a proving ground for cutting-edge mobile technology - a way to provide the most state-of-the-art hardware and functionality to power users, while showing existing phone manufacturers and carriers what is possible... and what folks are willing to invest in and pay for. In that way, they likened it to Forumula-1 in the car world. New technology, pushing the limits.
And, to make this possible, Canonical has started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $32 million.
It's OK. Take a moment to clean the coffee off the screen.
Yes. $32,000,000 (and zero cents).
This is certainly a pretty mammoth number for a crowd-funding campaign. But, when you think about it, this is actually a pretty reasonable number – perhaps even a bit on the low side – for the ambitious plans that Canonical is putting forth here.
Want an Ubuntu Edge phone for yourself? You'll want to get in on the fundraiser. You'll need to donate at the $830 level to get one (or the $600 level if you get there on the first day), which isn't cheap for a phone...but isn’t out-of-this-world expensive, either. It’s pretty on-par with other high-end devices.
Oh, and you'll be waiting almost a year to get yours – until May of 2014. Which makes sense. They do need to actually build this piece of kit. And the software powering it, Ubuntu Touch, still has a lot of work that needs to be done before it's production-ready.