When I read about the Ubuntu Edge, one phrase struck in my mind:
In the car industry, Formula 1 provides a commercial testbed for cutting-edge technologies. The Ubuntu Edge project aims to do the same for the mobile phone industry -- to provide a low-volume, high-technology platform, crowdfunded by enthusiasts and mobile computing professionals. A pioneering project that accelerates the adoption of new technologies and drives them down into the mainstream.
This comparison has not conviced me yet for several reasons:
To be compared to Formula 1, I think that the smartphone should be way more expensive than 695 dollars.
Such smartphone should be be targeted for end users but for very extreme and specific tasks, ideally created for the sake of competition
In my opinion, to create a real "pionering project" that could be compared to Formula 1, it is necessary:
to invest heavily on performance and battery duration using custom built (and thus expensive) components
to give these "super smartphones" some really daunting tasks -- here the theory of algorithms and complexity could help in selecting problems that are challenging (i.e. we have to use super fast hardware to improve perfomance). About attracting public, these tasks should be ties to physical events (for example, a race in which the course is devised by the smartphone)