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The line is increasingly blurring between smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. But how much blurring are we ready for?

ubuntuCanonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, has launched a new $32 million crowdfunding campaign that will test the demand for an all-in-one device — an “Ubuntu Edge” smartphone powerful enough to serve as the engine for desktop computing.

“We’re fascinated by converged computing, the idea that the smartphone in your pocket can also be the brain of the PC on your desk,” the company says in its Indiegogo campaign, launched yesterday. “We’ve shaped Ubuntu so you can transition seamlessly between the two environments. Now all that’s needed is a phone that’s designed from the ground up to be a PC as well.”

Will it work? Ubuntu is taking a unique approach, but we’ve seen this type of thing attempted in different forms in the the past, most memorably with the Motorola Atrix 4G’s laptop dock. Others, including Apple and Google, are focusing more on convergence between tablets and smartphones.

Microsoft has created a common user interface and operating system core for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, but so far the company is still drawing a clear distinction between phones and computers. Its convergence is primarily happening between tablets and PCs.

Canonical has so far raised more than $3.5 million, with 364 people pledging $830 each for the device. Here are the initial technical specs for the Ubuntu Edge, with an estimate delivery date of May 2014.

  • Dual boot Ubuntu mobile OS and Android
  • Fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC when docked
  • Fastest multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage
  • 4.5in 1,280 x 720 HD sapphire crystal display
  • 8mp low-light rear camera, 2mp front camera
  • Dual-LTE, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, NFC
  • GPS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer
  • Stereo speakers with HD audio, dual-mic recording, Active Noise Cancellation
  • MHL connector, 3.5mm jack
  • Silicon-anode Li-Ion battery
  • 64 x 9 x 124mm

Here is Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth making the pitch for the concept.

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