Mark Shuttleworth, the South African-born, Isle of Man-based millionaire who was only the second person on earth to pay to have himself shot into space, has latched onto a vision that’s compelling in its simplicity, not its particulars: Shuttleworth contends that it’s time people stopped owning more than one computer.
What’s a tablet, after all, but a larger screen for a smartphone? And why lug around a notebook, when the highest-end smartphones can, for most of us, accomplish all the same tasks? Isn’t a notebook, or even a full-blown PC, just a keyboard, a few peripherals, and a bigger screen bolted onto the same computational guts that are increasingly common to all our devices, most of which exist in the cloud now, anyway?
Shuttleworth, who has for years backed the apparently money-losing, open source, Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows, is betting that a future of “convergence”—his term—is coming sooner rather than later. That’s why he’s offering, for $830, the Ubuntu Edge, a phone so powerful that it is essentially a PC in your pocket.