Crowdfunding the Ubuntu Edge will fail

July 30, 2013

(This article was first published on Open Analytics - Blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Although the Ubuntu Edge has been record-breaking in its crowdfunding efforts, the fundraising campaign will fall well short of its 32 million dollar target.

Just to be clear, I hope to be proven wrong!

I backed the Ubuntu Edge Indiegogo fundraiser at the $625 level and would really, really like to see the project succeed.

Unfortunately, the data is fairly dismal.

With the help of Gustavo Niemeyer (@gniemeyer) from, I compiled funding data in 10-minute intervals dating back to the start of the campaign.

Although the Ubuntu Edge opened to a promising start, the pace has slowed to a crawl, and at the time of writing, the raised total has dipped below the red line, which represents a linear path between $0 at the start of the campaign and $32 million dollars at the campaign’s finish.

Crowdsourcing efforts often lose steam as the weeks progress, but the rate of donations have fallen so quickly and sharply that the Ubuntu Edge’s prospects look exceptionally bleak.

To illustrate, I created a movie that shows the projected linear estimates from a sliding 24-hour window of data. Again, the red line represents the linear pace for the $32 million goal, and the blue line represents the linear projection using only 24 hours of data at a time. Every fifth of a second, the movie slides forward one hour through the data.

The campaign launched quite nicely, and hit its second wind when the cheaper contribution levels were introduced. However, the rate of donations have fallen off considerably, and barring any dramatic changes, Canonical reaching its $32 million goal appears increasingly unlikely.

Although I was able to pledge for a phone at the $625 level, the Indiegogo campaign is structured in such a way that those pledging today are asked to shell out $775 for identical perks. It’s a puzzling structure, as the early-adopting enthusiasts (the ones likely most excited about the project and most willing to pay) were able to make their phone pledges at a much lower price point than those arriving late to the party.
Latecomers may be turned off by being asked to pay up to $230 dollars more for a phone than the earliest adopters, and unfortunately, the success of the project depends on new backers.

Moreover, the structuring of the perks is extremely bare bones and hardly incentivizes backers to pledge more than the bare minimum for a phone. Currently, the only backer levels available are:

$20 – Put your name on the “Ubuntu Edge Founders” page.
$50 – Get a T-shirt
$775 – Get a phone
$1400 – Get two phones
$10,000 – Get one of the first 50 phones and VIP access to the Ubuntu Edge unveiling
$80,000 – Get one-hundred phones

The structure is rather sparse, and a far cry from the meticulously planned scaling system of perks we are accustomed to seeing in Kickstarter projects. The combination of few enticing pledge levels and a structure that punishes latecomers may be dooming the project.

And it’s not just latecomers who suffer. If the campaign fails to reach its goal, none of us get the phone that we’re so excited for.

As a last look, I fit a regression model through the data to get a rough estimate of the campaign’s trajectory.

The model used was a rather naive linear model:

The model isn’t perfect, and extrapolating this far beyond the range of the data is a rather egregious statistical crime, but the message is clear: if nothing changes, the Ubuntu Edge will fail.

Let’s hope something changes.

Willem Ligtenberg
An avid Ubuntu user since 5.04

This post is about:

Edge, Ubuntu

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