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Mark Shuttleworth participated to reddit IAmA with interesting answers

Since its very beginning when it was announced and released on Indiegogo, Ubuntu Edge has been a rocket continuously breaking record after record, records in terms of participation, records in terms of attracted funds (available on http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ubuntu-edge), records in terms of media interest.

Moreover, Ubuntu Edge has been witnessing a massive interest from users from across the world, users wishing to digest every and every level, aspect, detail and information about the amorphous-metal-with-sapphire-display device, informations presented by forums, blogs, developers, designers, teams of Canonical, etc.

Hours ago, Mark Shuttleworth participated to a definitely interesting IAmA, answering to questions from users about several topics, among which Ubuntu Edge being handled as a first class citizen.


The answers (verbatim presented below,--partially--) provide interesting insights into Ubuntu Edge's multiple levels, as well as allowing the user to easily grasp behind-the-scene informations, as well as why certain decisions have been materialized, while others not seeing the light of creation.

  • The Indiegogo team has been absolutely fantastic to work with.
    Setting out to raise such a huge amount required working through a lot of legal and contractual complexities, between us and them and Paypal and a variety of other institutions. The indiegogo guys were creative and thoughtful throughout, and willing to go the extra mile to make it work.
    They are also very globally focused, and this really has to be a global campaign.
    So I'm delighted we have raised their record from $1.6 to $5.something (in 4 days!) and they deserve all the publicity and support they get as a result.
  • So in making the Edge, we're also forming an extension to the Ubuntu community that can help with designing next generation Edges.
    Mainstream volume PC and phone manufacturer is really best served by the existing players, I don't want to compete with them, we'd lose! But we're better setup to be a mediator between enthusiasts and those manufacturers, which is at the heart of this campaign.
  • We're working with a few different games publishers on both PC and mobile, so yes, I think gaming on the edge will be pretty radical. It should certainly raise the bar on mobile gaming because we'll have a LOT of RAM and first-class GPU.
  • If we're successful with the phone, then that platform becomes our core for desktop too, and it's really gorgeous, take a look.
  • Our best guess is $32m for 40,000 devices, not counting the money spent to date on design validation. If we did more devices we could lower the price, but that would just make the campaign goals harder. And really, we want to focus on cutting edge tech, so setting too high a production requirement might limit us to stuff that's more conventional. Hopefully we found a good balance, you be the judge!
  • What would be interesting is to invite the backers of this generation not only to help finalise the spec of this generation, but also to help select the most interesting combinations of technologies for a future generation, on say an annual basis.
  • For this generation, we had to go find ideas. If we're greenlighted, I think we could invite companies with hot and cool tech for phones to present their ideas to the community, and have a crowdsourcing approach to the design of say, the Edge 2015.
  • Sapphire, is much harder and more scratch resistant than any glass. Much more expensive and hard to machine, too, but we think its worth pushing industry to develop mainstream processing and volume for it.
  • It's certainly possible that a particular feature might go into another phone, but the overall goal of a PC-class convergence devices is miles beyond anything the majors are looking to achieve, and I think the Edge will be the first by a long way to try.
    If we get it greenlighted, then I hope we bring forward the commercial adoption of some of those tech by at least a year!
  • We've done thermal modelling of the device (recognising that the processor options are still only guidance from the vendors). I think for this generation we want to go all-out for performance to get over the convergence hump - i.e. deliver a device that gives a good enough desktop experience when you hook it up via HDMI and a bluetooth keyboard.
    But we are doing a lot of work on cooling off while you are not actually using it docked, so it doesn't warm up your pocket when you're not using it as a desktop!
  • We did consider specifying a range of accessories - gaming, PC form factor, ultra-mobility stations, but decided to focus on the core device and let others build ecosystems around it. The connection is standard MHL which means it should be straightforward for folks to support, and more interesting to crowdsource less than for us to try and do it all.
    I do think that the Edge coud be the heart of a whole wave of innovation - once you have a real PC in your pocket, who knows what entrepreneurs will build around it? Or kids with ideas from high school to MIT?
  • This first version of the Edge is to prove the concept of crowdsourcing ideas for innovation, backed by crowdfunding. If it gets greenlighted, then I think we'll have an annual process by which the previous generation backers get to vote on the spec for the next generation of Edge.
    So in this first generation Edge, no, we didn't look for open hardware specifically. We can choose silicon with more open drivers as we finalise the spec, but again I think the priority for the CPU / GPU will be performance to hit the goal of convergence.
    In future generations, it would be great to see if we can do an all-open device, for example.
  • We certainly didn't ask the CAG to fund it.
    The POINT of crowdsourcing is to shift processes away from industry into the hands of enthusiasts and independent decision makers. We are able to propose a device which would never make it through the risk-averse selection process at a carrier or manufacturer - not because they are dumb, but because the consequences of failure are bad for them personally and institutionally. Crowdsourcing is a new way to approach hard choices, innovation, and risk capital, and I thought it would be a good way to accelerate tech.
    We're doing it because we are setup to host a community, which is what the Edge backers become, that can help finalise the Edge spec and then work on next-gen specs too. We're already doing that every day, while the major carriers / manufacturers are not setup to do that.
  • My perspective on this is that we have to choose if we want to partner with the phone industry, we can't both partner and compete. So since I think its best for us to focus on the platform, I'm happy to support the Edge because it's a very focused innovation-seeking project that doesn't threaten our partnerships with mainstream industry (it enhances them).
  • I think breaking new ground requires a certain stubborn willingness to pursue an idea that is unpopular. Sometimes, that means stubbornly being wrong, and if one is afraid of being wrong, one will likely not break new ground.
    I also think that there is an interesting evolution as one moves from the fringe to the centre. When we started Ubuntu we took a LOT of difficult decisions. One CD (the game at the time was to have, like 13), one app for each thing (instead of 5 browsers preinstalled). All of those were tough choices that would have pissed people off, only NOBODY WAS LOOKING because we were unknown.
    Yet those very decisions made Ubuntu so popular.
  • We have to retain a willingness to think carefully about the future and act on it before it's obvious, or we lose our ability to help create that future.
    Now, this argument could be used to justify all sorts of abuse of our position of trust. I'm well aware of that. It's part of the calculus - are we doing this because I want to and I'm out of touch with reality, or because I (or another leader or part of the project) thinks thats what the future demands.
    At the end of the day, I think what matters is that every part of Ubuntu has leaders who are trusted to make such hard decisions. They will piss people off. But if they were leaders who could not make choices that pissed people off then they could not make choices at all, and that's no leadership.