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Crowdfunding the Ubuntu Edge: Is it worth your US$830?

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Crowdfunding Ubuntu Edge

Source: Ubuntu

Should you invest US$830 in trying to fund the creation of the Ubuntu Edge? For the first 5,000 takers or twenty-four hours, you could sign up for an Ubuntu Edge, to be delivered in May 2014 for US$600. The first 5,040 takers were signed up for an Ubuntu Edge in less than thirteen hours. The price of entry is now US$830. A bit over twenty-four hours into this crowdfunding initiative, US$3.5 million has been committed. For the Ubuntu Edge to become reality, another US$28.5 million has to be raised in twenty-nine days.

If you have not yet read the first part of this article, you should follow this link, and see whether the concept behind the Ubuntu Edge, interests you. If the concept does interest you, the next question is– “Is it worth your money?”

I won’t waste your time. In my opinion, no smartphone is worth US$830. Well not unless it can sing, dance and wash your car for you all at the same time. There is nothing wrong with the announced hardware specifications for the Ubuntu Edge. The phone will have an impressive amount of RAM and storage, at 4 GB and 128 GB, respectively. It will be powered by a multi-core processor and have dual channel LTE. Even the selection of the display, a 4.5-inch 720p display seems like a good choice. I am not sold on the need for ultra large smartphones or 1080p displays myself.

Again, the problem is, no smartphone is worth US$830. So, if I were to invest right now, and wait a year for my unit. It is likely that after I get mine in May 2014, a few weeks later, others can buy the same phone for a much more reasonable price. Even the US$600 early adopted price seemed a bit steep. The Bill of Materials of a top of the line smartphone for the Apple iPhone is at about US$199, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 is at about US$229. So if I were an early investor in the Ubuntu Edge project, I would not want to have to pay more than US$400 or US$500. After all, I am committing my money about nine months in advance. I might be willing to pay US$600 to US$700 for it, at retail next year.

Basically, I feel like early investors are being asked to take one for the team.

If this concept catches on, Ubuntu for Android can be licensed to other Android manufacturers. It might even be released into the market before the Ubuntu Edge. A Samsung Galaxy S V “Ubuntu Edition”, might be more interesting, and cheaper, than the US$830 I will need to fork out now for the Ubuntu Edge.

If the concept does not catch on, and the funding goal is reached, I will get an interesting phone without much hardware to support it. Ubuntu should be offering the Ubuntu Edge with a desktop dock which plugs into your LCD TV, and a lapdock accessory too. That way, I would be guaranteed on getting the complete package. Right now, my US$830 might get me a very interesting phone, without the accessories which make it interesting.

Worse, I might get strung along for a long ride. After this project is successfully funded, I might see another crowdfunded project for the Ubuntu Edge Dock, and a month later, the Ubuntu Edge Lapdock. I think Canonical should just have taken a loan for US$50 million, and quietly build the phone, the dock and the lapdock. Then in an event next May, unveil the Ubuntu Edge and say: “It is available for US$649, today! It has a dock, available for US$50, today! It has a lapdock, available for US$149, today!” That would have given Mark Shuttleworth his Steve Jobs moment.

Instead, the question today, is do you love Ubuntu, US$830 worth?