Onwards and Upwards

As many of you will have seen, unfortunately the Ubuntu Edge campaign did not reach our goal of $32million. The final total reached was $12,812,776. I am hugely proud and thankful to everyone who pledged, supported the campaign, wrote about it, and helped to spread the word.

Some have described us not meeting the goal as a “failure”. I don’t see it that way. Let’s be honest: $32million was always an incredibly ambitious target. We would have liked to have done it for less money, but building a F1 superphone doesn’t come cheap (and remember that the $32million didn’t include any costs for software engineering and project management…Canonical were providing that for free). It was an ambitious target, but disrupting an industry is ambitious in itself, and we gave the crowd-funding campaign our best shot. The story does not end here though.

I am not surprised that we didn’t hit this ambitious $32million target, but I am surprised at what we did achieve. We broke all the crowd-funding records, garnered media attention across CNBC, Engadget, The Independent, TechCrunch, the BBC, T3, Stuff, The Verge, The Guardian, Wired, pandodaily, Fast Company, Forbes, The Telegraph and more. Every single person who put their support into the Ubuntu Edge campaign should be proud of their achievements and we are all thankful for your tremendous and inspiring support.

One thing to be critically clear about is that the Ubuntu convergence story does not end here. We are as voraciously excited and committed to bringing this Free Software convergence story to the world as ever before; our work with OEMs, Carriers, and ISVs continues apace. We have fantastic work going on across all fronts, and we are on track to have a 1.0 release of the Ubuntu Phone platform in October.

What this experience demonstrated to me more than anything was the passion and commitment of the Ubuntu family. We are a global and diverse family all united by a dream of what the future can look like, a future in which powerful, elegant technology is freely available to all, available in the devices people care about and use to learn, create, and live better lives. Our Ubuntu family is what makes us strong, and while we didn’t hit the $32million we saw yet another example of our family coming together as one and the wider industry getting a peek into our world and the technology we have to offer.

Onwards and upwards!

  • jd evora

    Hi,

    I agree that it was a success, but it left all the backers with sour taste in our mouths…

    I was really expecting a “better end”, an extension, some behind the scenes deals, lets do less phones or a big etc, not just a poor message from Mark Shuttleworth at the end…

  • Anonymous

    Sorry you have a sour taste in your mouth, but I think your expectations were unrealistic. This is how crowd-funding works: if it doesn’t get funded, it is because there were not enough backers.

  • RealityBites

    We broke all the crowd-funding records

    No you didn’t, you broke all crowd-fund-pledge records. It was not funded, so you can’t honestly make that claim.

    We would have liked to have done it for less money, but building a F1 superphone doesn’t come cheap (and remember that the $32million didn’t include any costs for software engineering and project management…Canonical were providing that for free).

    Check Mark’s back pocket, he may have an extra $32M in there, or maybe in his change jar. :)

    Canonical isn’t doing anything for “free”. You are doing it on your own dime with the expectation of financial gain. You took a risk, rolled the dice, and lost.

    If anything it proves that the market doesn’t want a “converged device”, at least not at that price point.

    Instead of trying to put a positive spin on it, Canonical should use it as a learning lesson and not make the same mistake twice.

    Spinning it as a positive is an injustice to all involved.

  • RealityBites

    This is how crowd-funding works: if it doesn’t get funded, it is because there were not enough backers.

    If it doesn’t get funded because there were not enough backers, the product was not attractive enough to be viable at that price point.

    I think it was very a poorly managed campaign, and yet another example of mismanagement by Canonical’s leadership and product teams.

  • Prithviraj Nag

    Well…what is past is past…now that the Edge can’t happen any more (at least for now), can Canonical please give us something to cheer about, in form of an announcement, may be regarding OEMs and actual products that will ship…this will greatly help to dilute the bitter memory in the minds of the backers/fans of the Edge not happening. At least we will have something “real” to boast about…..Its been nearly 8 months since Ubuntu Touch was publicly announced. Are talks with OEMs still in such a primitive state that nothing regarding it can be announced?

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    I encourage you to do better then. The software is all open (with the exception of some Android drivers), so by all means use it for your own successful crowd-funding campaign.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    There was no chance of financial gain directly from the Ubuntu Edge campaign. The best outcome for Canonical, financially, was that the Edge would kick off a new category of products from other OEMs that were capable of doing what we need for Ubuntu’s convergence story. We would make money only after everybody else did.

  • Dennis Shimer

    This is about the internet in general and not singularly about this post or comments here, just a convenient place to post.

    I understand the reaction by those who have been sitting around for 30 days with their mouse over the submit button and their posts already written saying “Canonical blew it, I knew they would, I could have done this successfully, here’s how I would have done it, blah, blah, blah” or

     "Canonical blew it, they should just be a gathering point for a community only desktop operating system. Innovation means not changing anything except the couple of things I want changed. Phones are dumb, convergence is dumb, blah, blah, blah." (as if the world needs another barely different desktop operating system)
    

    What I don’t get is the let down in people that act like they care. We knew the phone would take a while, it wasn’t announced as a completed project that had been done in secret and rolled out as a deliverable (some complain about the early press, and would also complain that Canonical is too secretive, go figure). It was announced as a beginning point, a vision, an opportunity. In the midst of it someone decided to take a bold gamble, it would either work or it wouldn’t. Well it didn’t for now. Plenty of excitement and people who had the cash, and excitement from people who just didn’t but still look forward to what is coming. Nothing changes, just not going to have a high end, limited run phone available for the folks who have the cash. “But why can’t Mark just pay for it?” as if he should buy, build, or develop anybody a phone. The question was simple, was there enough support and cash for this particular device right now? The answer is no, nothing changes.

    I don’t have a smart phone now, and may not ever, but I love seeing boundaries pushed, paradigms shifted, and technology developed that can only make my life easier as it trickles down to the things I come into contact with on a daily basis. For that matter even a technology that fails has the tendency to push competing ideas to respond and grow then because it is generally open and shows up on my desktop anyway.

  • http://www.nhaines.com/ Nathan Haines

    Are talks with OEMs still in such a primitive state that nothing regarding it can be announced?

    Well, yes… talks like these are always under NDA, and the OEMs almost never make their own announcements. They contract with carriers who then make the announcements. Only at the same time or afterward can OEMs or other companies make their announcements.

    They do this for a variety of reasons, but most importantly are marketing and availability reasons. Mir existed for 6 months before it was announced in January, and likewise so did Ubuntu Touch for phones and tablets.

    You’ll see the Ubuntu Phone announcements a month or two before the products are available in stores to buy. Unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens right here with the Ubuntu Edge when a product is announced sooner–critics start casting doubt over “vaporware”.

  • Jef Spaleta

    Why don’t you have a smartphone yet?

  • RealityBites

    I don’t need to do better, I already know not to make stupid business decisions. Great job twisting my words, you make a fine Canonical employee, they should give you a raise. Maybe if they weren’t broke.

  • RealityBites

    Nobody knows that except Canonical so it’s your word against everyone else’s. Newsflash, handsets are not that expensive anymore. At best your company would spend $400 per handset pocketing the rest. You aren’t high enough on the foodchain to know if there would or would not be a profit from the effort.

    Convergence is a joke, nerds might drool over it but consumers don’t want it. Your failed campaign proves that quite well.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    That wasn’t meant as an attack (or defense), I really would like to see you or somebody else take this and succeed with it. If you think you know what it takes to do so, then please go out and do it.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Well you could go and take the Edge’s specs and shop around with ODMs to see what it would cost to build 40,000 of them. You don’t have to take our word for it, but you do need to do a little bit of work on your own if you want to independently verify it.

  • http://metin2wiki.ru CSRedRat

    Very sad :(

  • Dennis Shimer

    We raised 5 kids on one very modest income and phones were never something that ended up above the “necessary” threshold (along with cable, magazines, and eating out). I love tech in all its manifestations and promote Linux and open source on a daily basis. I have a pay by the minute in the saddlebag of my bike for emergencies / necessities and still only pay $3-$5 per month. I guess I just got used to it and now with grandkids there are still other things above a smart phone on the list, no matter how much I would love to have one.

  • Jef Spaleta

    how much did you pay for your flipphone? I think realistically FFOS phones are going to end up pushing flip phones out of the market at the entry level price point in a year, if they get traction.

  • http://www.nhaines.com/ Nathan Haines

    Prepaid flip phones are $20. I have a nice one I keep-unpaid–in my backpack when I go hiking because it stays charged for months when it’s off and it uses a different carrier than my Galaxy Nexus.

    I could charge it for $10 and it’s a nice insurance policy when in the middle of nowhere.

  • Anonymous

    No, the project was very well managed – there were a lot of people worked hard on the campaign and did excellent work.

    Unfortunately the economics of the device mixed with the required demand in the time period didn’t work out.

  • Dennis Shimer

    I paid about $15 on ebay, but honestly what I’m waiting for is the day when Ubuntu is mature and easy and I can flash one of my kids hand me down android phones then get it on Virgin or Ting. I’m probably an outlier in the statistics who would love to have an edge/desktop replacement, who follows all the news, promotes and advocates phone and desktop, but don’t see it happening for a while.

  • Anonymous

    You are trolling.

    By the way, yes Mike is an awesome Canonical employee and I just gave him a raise a few months back. :-)

  • Jef Spaleta

    Okay so ideally you want to extend the life of late model hardware with a reliable DIY install of Ubuntu… similar to how one currently repurposes retail desktops and turns them into linux installs?

    With that hardware, I don’t think you can expect it to handle a desktop-like experience smoothly ala the convergence story that Canonical is pushing as its killer usage case for its Ubuntu mobile strategy. Obviously hand-me down hardware will be underpowered for that sort of usage.

    So you want the hand-me down hardware just for the mobile aspects I take it? If so…why would you prefer to flash it with Ubuntu versus CyanogenMod? Do you need it to be Ubuntu or can it be something else with a different UI experience? Or are you just super keen on the Ubuntu touch UI as it works on Google nexus 4 currently?

  • RealityBites

    No, the project was very well managed

    Because projects that fail are often very well managed, right?

    You are trolling.

    I would do far better than that if I thought any of you were worthy of trolling.

  • RealityBites

    I really would like to see you or somebody else take this and succeed with it.

    It has no place in the market, so it doesn’t make a lick of business sense to even try.

    Any way you slice it the failure of Edge just makes the case that Canonical fails to deliver. Who is going to trust a company that can’t make any money no matter how hard they try? Yes, your software is all out there but unless it’s forked it’s useless because it’s bound by CLA. Not to mention that Android is a more viable and mature platform and it is actually free.

  • RealityBites

    Why when I can just go over to Google and buy a device that actually exists for about half what you were charging. It may not have make believe specs like the Edge does but at least it’s a real device.

  • Dennis Shimer

    The last paragraph nailed it exactly (actually it is all pretty spot on, but…). Remember I’m not going out of my way to have a smart phone. Ubuntu would kick it over the threshold to ratchet up my no contract plan to a month-to-month data plan to decide if I’ve been missing something I can’t live without. Phones are probably fun enough, but it is what I believe is the forward thinking boldness of Canonical/Ubuntu that I want to promote.

  • Jef Spaleta

    So my question is… if you could run a campaign where the final device to be built was actually crowdsourced from among a spectrum of possible device pricepoints could you do a better job of landing on the demand curve?

    If you could in one campaign provide say 3 price points and sort of bracket an ideal demand curve. I high price point (leather heated seats and rain forest wood inlay appointments), a mid price point (pleather and brushed metal finish interier), and a low price point (seats). All three availabel in the same campaign but you only build the one that is best supported at the end.

    Would that sort of campaign mechanics have helped find the economic point on the demand curve where something could get built?

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    What would you do with the pledges for the bracket that isn’t built? If you pledged for heated leather seats and we built plain cloth ones, would you consider that you got what you pledged for?

    Funding development this way is kind of a catch-22, in order to make it cheaper you need to build more, but to build more you need to get even more contributors. I think the key is finding where the demand curve and the manufacturing cost curve meet, if they meet somewhere at all for the device you’re trying to build.

  • Dennis Shimer

    I kind of think the bottom two will get built anyway. I mean if Ubuntu ends up with an actual phone in some market, those two are going to be the phones that we start to see from carriers and manufacturers. I always felt like the Edge was a “This is something special, is there enough money/interest to make it happen NOW” offering. I know people read a lot into it but in my mind it was simply if you don’t try you can’t possibly succeed or for that matter even know. As a side benefit it will generates some interest and hard numbers so all the better. And I say hard numbers because people actually parted with $12M, that’s not enough to manufacture this particular phone, but it says a lot.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Because buying an existing device that was manufactured in the millions isn’t going to tell you anything about what it would actually cost to build 40,000 Ubuntu Edge devices.

  • Jef Spaleta

    you refund the pledges obviously.

    But you also let people decide which of the devices they want to pledge towards with a single pledge.

    Pledge at the highest level, choose to have it count towards the lower priced devices as well optionally.

    Then if only the lowest priced least featured gets built you refund the difference if the pledge was earmarked for all 3 feature levels.

    I’m not saying this is possible to do with current infrastructure. I’m saying its more efficient than doing 4 repeat campaigns sequentially to bracket the demand curve. because repeat campaigns of this type are going to emotionally exhaust your key supporters. There’s only so much rah-rah in the tank.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    That’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know if either IndieGoGo or Kickstarer have an easy way of offering something like that as a perk.

    I suppose one possibility would just be to offer many variations of perks. A, A or B, B only, A or B or C, B or C only, C only, etc. Might get confusing though. Figuring out how many of what combination would be needed to actually build what’s promised would also be a challenge.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    You should be able to use it for emergency calls (911) even if you don’t have an active service plan on it.

  • http://www.nhaines.com/ Nathan Haines

    Yes, as I stated, that’s why I keep it unpaid in my hiking backpack.

    I meant “I could charge it for $10″ and “It’s a nice insurance policy when in the middle of nowhere” as two separate pluses. :)

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Ubuntu Touch also gives you a GNU/Linux userland, something neither Android/Cyanogen nor FFOS does

  • Jef Spaleta

    No i do not think they have that infra to allow modular design for physical products in this way. But I’m trying to make some constructive comments that can lead to changes in how a followup campaign could be run..to avoid a falling off the demand curve like this one did.

    What people do on kickstarter for modularity is to use “stretch goals” and they layer them on top of each other.

    The penultimate achievable thing you could create as a group is a layering of individual stretch goal features. This encourages 2nd and 3rd mile giving from existing backers who like a particular stretch goal feature.

    But stretch goals are a little different than what I’m talking about, because it requires layered modularity. If you can have obvious modular layered features…use stretch goals to increase production costs based on demand for those better features. But if you want 3 distinct design concepts each with a specific baked in feature set.. you need infra to do what I’m talking about…which does not exist yet.

  • Jef Spaleta

    And this is important why?

  • RealityBites

    Because buying an existing device that was manufactured in the millions isn’t going to tell you anything about what it would actually cost to build 40,000 Ubuntu Edge devices

    Which is another shining example of how Canonical did it wrong.

    Perhaps Canonical could learn from these manufacturers churning out devices in the millions and rolling in profit rather than making excuses as to why their failure isn’t a really failure while they remain broke.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Because we like like our GNU/Linux userland? I do anyway.

  • RealityBites

    Ubuntu Touch also gives you a GNU/Linux userland, something neither Android/Cyanogen nor FFOS does

    Which is only important to a nerd. There isn’t anything that the GNU/Linux userland provides to satisfy the needs of a common user that can’t be found in the play store or at itunes.

  • Jef Spaleta

    So you are building this phone people like “us”

    Michael, I live in the 0.01% tail of technical proficiency. What I like…what my dream technology products are…are not products that not going to be products that have mass market appeal. If I like a particular technical feature… if I really really like it…then your target audience won’t appreciate it.

    So gnu userspace… meh. totally not important to your target audience. You need to get that.

    If using it helps you deliver a more solid product from an engineering and development cost standpoint…then great. But selling it like its a great thing for anyone not standing in the sausage factory covered in tasty tasty particles of meat….is just a waste of breath. Its a technical implementation detail that is simply not important to your target. Niether end users nor app developers. They don’t care. Don’t sell it like its a differentiator that matters.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Obviously that’s not the reason we’re building a phone, but it is a happy consequence of us build a phone OS that’s based on a desktop OS

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Nobody is going to build anything like the Edge in the millions and try to sell them at a profit for another 2 years. There’s a reason for that, and it’s the reason we decided to try and crowd-fund only 40,000 of them.

  • RealityBites

    Nobody is going to build anything like the Edge in the millions and try to sell them at a profit for another 2 years. There’s a reason for that, and it’s the reason we decided to try and crowd-fund only 40,000 of them.

    Nobody is going to build anything like the Edge in the millions for another two years? Makes sense, only your OS needed that sort of horsepower. All other mobile OS’s already offer much more with much less.

    You speak as though Edge was as epic as the coming of Jesus. You do realize the phone specs weren’t that impressive. It was only 720p and unless you plan to run a hacked up desktop OS on it, it really don’t need more than the specs of the current low end phones already on the market.

    You were building a device nobody needed, you shouldn’t be surprised that it didn’t sell like hot cakes. Anyone not drinking Canonical Kool-aid knew this would happen.

    Continuing to make excuses instead of taking the time to learn from your mistakes really just makes you all look like a big joke.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    I don’t think Jesus is coming in the next 2 years either, so technically you are correct, but that’s a discussion for another thread.

  • RealityBites

    Be sure to get the last word in, heaven forbid that you actually learn from your mistakes. Much simpler to be smug instead. Nice ego boost today to be $19 million short of success, mucho justification for your arrogance.

  • Prithviraj Nag

    “Unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens right here with the Ubuntu Edge when a product is announced sooner–critics start casting doubt over ‘vaporware’.”

    People call it vapourware when there is no certainty of the product actually shipping! If Canonical made a successful deal with an OEM and then announced that “so-and-so OEM has agreed to manufacture an Ubuntu Phone with so-and-so specs, to be released at so-and-so date, up for pre-ordering from today”, then surely people wont call that vapourware (assuming there is no chance of the deal suddenly falling apart before the device is produced)

  • Prithviraj Nag

    “Convergence is a joke, nerds might drool over it but consumers don’t want it. Your failed campaign proves that quite well.”

    Would like to hear you say that in an year’s time dude ;)

  • http://www.nhaines.com/ Nathan Haines

    That’s not what vaporware is, though. Vaporware is the promise of a product that doesn’t actually exist and never materializes.

    What we had here was an invitation to purchase a product that would be made upon successful completion of funding. That’s how crowdfunding works. We have the OS and a custom cell phone isn’t exactly hard to build–only expensive.

    There’s always a chance of a deal suddenly falling apart before a device is produced. That’s why–despite the fact that Canonical is in talks with various carriers and OEMs–there are no announcements, nor will there be until very, very shortly before retail release.

  • CheeseBurg

    I am sadden by the failure of the Edge but you are correct that there is plenty of good that came from it even if the goal was not reached but I won’t go into the praise Ubuntu got nor the excite it brought since you know that very well. If you do something like this again (which you should!) I have some suggestions:

    1) Tell people about the campaign a month in advance. I would have given you the money if I had it. I made a big purchase a night in advance and couldn’t get enough money before the end of the campaign. It made me really sad because I wanted my name on the founders page at the least.

    2) Don’t do two big events at once! Right in the middle of this campaign, you have the Ubuntu App Contest. It was weird to have them scheduled at the same time. At the least you should have said something in the IndieGoGo campaign, maybe it would have gotten more interest in the Edge(?)

    3) Stretch goals FTW. I think stretch goals like “If we reach 50 million we will make another 10,000 phones AND the price will drop from $700 to $600″. That way the cost of the phone will be the same for you but to the user, they get a cheaper phone AND you have people working for a common goal of getting a cheaper phone. I just put random numbers but you can do the math to make it work.

    4) Have someone from the OEM talk about Ubuntu Edge. Just make it seem more real and I think people like that.

    5) Lastly, let people know that this campaign was about the phone first and the OS second. The campaign was about creating a limited amount of an awesome phone but a lot of people thought it was about making a new phone that would be sold in stores. I think that confusing threw off a lot of people. You need to push Ubuntu touch, I understand, but I THINK (and could be wrong) it was not a strong selling point. I think you should have stress that it was an Android phone too, like a safety. Something along the lines of “Not interested in Ubuntu? We have the latest Android here too, that way you can get an OS you trust. And if you ever feel adventures you can play with Ubuntu safely on your own time.” I feel that is something Jono would say.

    Just my 2 cents. I would love to talk about it more if anyone is interested. We need more incentives like this, not just from Canonical but from people/organizations in general. Crowdfunding brings the power back to the people.

  • Jef Spaleta

    Is it a happy consequence? Or is it just a necessary requirement based on existing in-house tooling that Canonical wants to leverage to reduce time-to-market?

    I believe the gnu userspace in the Ubuntu mobile offering is just technical debt from Canonical’s perspective, accumulated over years of previous decisions. Not because its the best engineered solution for the task at hand…but because its the most familiar tool.

    I don’t think there’s any idealism in the choice, or romanticism with regard for the gnu userpsace. I very much doubt there is a great love or passion for it in your engineering. It’s simply what they are most familiar with.

    I think the decision to use it is pragmatic driven but myopic decision making done entirely to reduce the time-of-market as a technical detail that hasn’t been actively decided is worth re-engineering

    And this is exactly where the Ubuntu mobile stratagy is diverging with its competitors. You have this huge core userspace codebase in your platform, under your SDK and API that you fundamentally do not good control or engineering expertise coverage for. Everybody in the mobile market has much tighter engineering control over their platform userspace and this gives them a real competitive advantage at the cost of having to sink time and resources into the engineering of it.

    I wish you luck, but I do not think the traditional linux distro userspace gives you a competitive advantage in the market at present.