Savile Row and the Ubuntu Edge

The Ubuntu Edge isn't interesting because it's open-source. It's an intriguing stab at a bespoke phone.

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Photo by Swanksalot/Flickr.

As of 2 p.m. on this Friday, Linux trendsetter Ubuntu has raised just about $6.6 million on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. If they raise $32 million, they will move ahead with manufacturing the Ubuntu Edge, a phone that they equate to a Formula 1 of phones: limited run, state-of-the-art technology, and decidedly not priced to fly off the retail shelves.

The fact that the phone comes from a Linux-based firm is intriguing, as is the version of Ubuntu that will run on the phone. And there is, I'm sure, quite a bit to say about how Ubuntu will handle support for the phone after it is released. It's an open-source phone, it's completely free of carrier interference, and so on, and so forth. Preaching the open-source, phone-as-personality message can get tiring, though. Let's talk about that $32 million, that sapphire crystal screen, and how one makes the best suits and, maybe now, how one makes phones.

If Ubuntu gets between $725 and $830 from individual backers, they will produce something less than 40,000 phones from the $32 million they receive, and ship them out in May 2014. They won't be for sale any other way. These phones will be something different.

Key among the features is a promise of the "fastest multi-core CPU" around, with 4 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage space. With that kind of juice, you can plug your Ubuntu phone (via HDMI) into any display and use it as a full Ubuntu desktop. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you're rolling on the same type of computer that I'm writing on right now. I'm a little skeptical of how many people really keep monitors around for work these days, and then how many of those monitor workers prefer to tap away on an Ubuntu system, but, as noted, this phone is only being built for the people who back it.

Along with that computer-anywhere experience, the phone, which can run both either Ubuntu Phone or Android, or both, has some other distinguishing specs:

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