Bloomberg backs Ubuntu Edge mobile computer with $80,000 pledge

First business backer

Canonical's ambitious attempt to crowdfund $32 million (£21 million) for the Ubuntu Edge might be falling short but the concept has at least found a symbolic business backer with the news that Information firm Bloomberg has pledged $80,000 to the cause.

That sum has made Bloomberg the first organisation to qualify for the 'Enterprise 100' bundle, which gives them 100 Edge smartphones plus one month's tech support and access to workshops.

Bloomberg's money should be good news but in a way it has drawn attention to the lack of backing received for the Edge from the business sector, the one part of the market that has the power to lift it from aspiration into a deliverable product.

"Bloomberg supports open innovation and initiatives, such as Ubuntu Edge, that align with our software development and business priorities," announced Bloomberg CTO, Shawn Edwards.

"With this investment, Bloomberg developers will contribute to an open technology initiative that could benefit our clients and have a powerful impact on the future of mobile computing."

The financial data firm sees a use for the device as an all-in-one mobile platform.

"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," said Bloomberg head of web architecture, Justin Erenkrantz.

"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."

Bloomberg and Canonical remain upbeat about the prospects that the Edge will in theory appear in May 2014. To do that it must reach the $32 million target by midnight on 21 August; with under a fortnight to go the total stood at $8.5 million which suggests a sizable shortfall on that figure.

Using a crowdfunded model always looked like a long shot for an advanced smartphone costing $800 a pop but was probably seen by Canonical as at the very least a good marketing tactic that would garner wider support.

If the campaign fails, the Edge won't happen but Canonical will have gained some exposure for the interesting concept of a converged phone-to-computer device. Many people not willing to back the device with cash still believe it is on to something.

However, "if we don't reach our target then we will focus only on commercially available handsets and there will not be an Ubuntu Edge. All contributions will be fully refunded," Canonical said during its Edge funding launch.

The Ubuntu Edge's price had been reduced from an expected $800 to $695, Canonical announced.

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