Updated: Bloomberg signs up for $32M Ubuntu Edge fundraiser and Canonical cuts pricing

Ubuntu Edge campaign success chart, 8 August 2013

UPDATED: Since this article was published Canonical has cut the Edge’s price to $695. See details at the end of this piece.

Bloomberg, purveyor of fine financial and news-related services, has pledged some of its own money towards Canonical’s Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding scheme on Indiegogo.

The terminal trader has promised to pay $80,000 for 100 of the Linux-based smartphone-meets-PC devices, assuming of course that they get made. Yes, it could have got the same number for just $78,000 if it had gone for the still-available $780 “perk” level, but the Enterprise 100 Bundle also comes with “access to best-practice workshops and 30 days of online support to help CIOs and IT managers integrate Ubuntu for Android into the workplace.”

For its 80 large, Bloomberg would be buying into a very smart handset that boots into either Ubuntu or Android and sports 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 4.5-inch “sapphire glass” screen and a potentially viable future computing paradigm. Heck, even the silicon anode lithium-ion battery technology is next-gen.

But again, that’s assuming the Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign meets its ambitious $32 million target. Right now, halfway through Canonical’s drive, it’s just north of $8.5 million:

Ubuntu Edge campaign success chart, 8 August 2013

Image credit: <a href="http://ubuntu-edge.info/#total">ubuntu-edge.info</a>

By my calculations at the time of writing, Canonical now just needs to sell another 49 Enterprise 100 Bundles (out of 50), 44 $10,000 “one of a kind” Edges that come with a seat at the unveiling event (out of 50), 1,600 $1,400 “Double Edge” bundles (out of 2,000), 3,996 Edges at $780 (out of 4,500), 2,986 Edges at $790 (out of 3,000), and around 13,750 Edges at the standard $830 price.

Easy.

No, I don’t think Canonical will make it either, unless it introduces some seriously tempting new perk levels. And even then, we’re talking about a product that will only ship in May next year.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see the company succeed. I actually like the smartphone-meets-PC concept, and Ubuntu as a Linux distribution has been heading in this direction for a while. And for the enterprise, it would make total sense to have smartphones that become PCs when you hook them up to monitors and keyboards.

Here’s how Bloomberg’s head of web architecture, Justin Erenkrantz, put it in a statement:

“Bloomberg’s developers are already designing and building software for advanced devices because our clients demand a seamless experience from the desktop to the mobile platform. Ubuntu’s goal to offer a single-device solution for enterprise convergence and mobility is an exciting prospect and one that complements our vision for open development on the mobile platform.”

It’s true that Ubuntu for mobile could survive the collapse of the Edge crowdfunding scheme – this is arguably about making a next-generation concept device rather than launching the concept itself – but its reputation would take a hit nonetheless. Let’s hope more Bloombergs and keen individuals pile in.

UPDATE (5.05am PT): They’re certainly tracking feedback. 15 minutes ago Canonical significantly cut the price of the Ubuntu Edge to $695 — yes, all the individual-unit perk tiers that were still available earlier on Thursday have been scrapped. The enterprise bundle also now comes with 115 units, rather than 100. This was all apparently made possible by Canonical’s component suppliers working to stimulate demand for the Edge.

Those opting for the $695 tier will also get a free year’s subscription to the premium version of the LastPass password management service.

Canonical said there will be no more price cuts, and those who have already pledged for higher-priced tiers will get the difference refunded when the crowdfunding campaign ends (and if it succeeds, obviously — otherwise no-one sees money leave their account at all). They’ll need to sell more units at this price, clearly, but this is it: make-or-break time.

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