UK smartphone sets crowdfunding record
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A British software developer has set a record for the most money raised in a crowdfunding campaign, with its project to develop a new smartphone attracting pledges of more than $10m (pounds 6.3m).
The fundraising by Canonical for its Ubuntu Edge phone has secured pledges worth $10,355,000 since opening on 22 July on the Indiegogo crowdfunding website - overtaking the previous record set by the Pebble smartwatch.
The developer of Ubuntu software is hoping to deliver its first handsets in May next year, and backers paying $695 or more will be given their own devices as a reward. The company said yesterdaythat more than 14,500 smartphones had so far been pledged for.
Backers include the media group Bloomberg, the first large company to join the campaign. It has pledged $80,000 for a package which includes 115 handsets.
"The campaign has sparked a level of interest that has surprised even us," Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth told the BBC, saying that it had prompted interest from some large handset makers.
More than 22,000 pledges have flooded in from around the world, however, the pledges may never be redeemed. This is because Canonical must meet its minimum fundraising goal of $32m to be allowed to claim the money, and the campaign deadline is in six days.
"We were mindful that tripling a record is always a big stretch and a big ask," Shuttleworth said, referring to the Pebble, which started production in January after fundraising on the US Kickstarter website.
The Ubuntu campaign had already smashed the previous record set on Indiegogo: last year, Scanadu Scout used the website to raise $1.7m to develop a medical tricorder, which reads vital signs and sends them wirelessly to a smartphone.
Shuttleworth founded Canonical in 2004. The South African multimillionaire sold his internet security software company to VeriSign for $575m in 1999, and now resides in the Isle of Man.
Canonical, which employs 500 staff in 30 countries and espouses an open source ethic was founded to create a PC operating system as an alternative to Microsoft Windows but it has switched its attention to smartphones.
Described by its maker as a "superfone", the Ubuntu Edge can be connected to a desktop computer. The connection allows the phone to become the brain of a PC running on Ubuntu's operating system, with files stored on the handset visible on the computer screen.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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