Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Biggest Crowdfunding Campaign Ever Is Probably Going to Fail

For the Ubuntu Edge, it’s $10 million down, $20 million to go. That’s because the proposed smartphone that would transform into a PC is aiming to raise $32 million on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, and has committed to only take the money if it reaches its goal.

twitter_fail_whaleThere are only six days left in the month-long Ubuntu Edge campaign, and open-source developer Canonical has raised nearly $10.5 million. The previous record holder, smartwatch maker Pebble, had topped out at just about $10.3 million on Kickstarter (then again, Pebble’s original goal was $100,000).

The new device would run both Ubuntu mobile OS and Android, and convert into a desktop PC via a monitor. It would have much more memory and storage than the standard smartphone, and a sapphire crystal display. Canonical compares it to Formula 1 in the car industry, a so-called “superphone” that would inspire broader innovation.

UbuntuEdgeWeirdly enough, it doesn’t sound like Canonical actually expected to reach its goal. “The campaign has sparked a level of interest that has surprised even us,” Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth told the BBC. He indicated that it was possible that the campaign would be extended, or that large manufacturers who came “out of the woodwork” might help make the device.

But perhaps the unattainable goal is in part what’s driving all the no-risk commitments. As the Ubuntu Edge Indiegogo page describes it: “If we don’t reach our target then we will focus only on commercially available handsets and there will not be an Ubuntu Edge. All contributions will be fully refunded.”

The funny thing is, one of Indiegogo’s distinguishing factors is that it doesn’t require all-or-nothing campaigns, unlike its competitor Kickstarter. Indiegogo offers a “Flexible Funding” option that gives projects the options to keep all the money they raise, minus an additional five percent fee.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus