Ubuntu Edge, the crowdfunded smartphone with full PC capabilities, has died before it ever launched. The Canonical-backed smartphone/PC project failed to meet its $32 million fundraising goal -- so the Ubuntu Edge is dead and the Linux distribution company will issue refunds to donors. Canonical and some open source advocates insist that the crowdfunding project was a positive experience that will ultimately help third-party Ubuntu smartphones to come to market vs. Google (GOOG) Android and Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. The VAR Guy isn't so sure.

As our resident blogger mentioned earlier this month, Canonical is trying to compete in a smartphone market that requires billions (with a B) of dollars in research and development. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Samsung and others are all in the game -- investing billions of dollars. Yet Canonical couldn't raise $32 million for its smartphone dream. For Ubuntu Edge to truly succeed, Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth would have had to raise money or sell the company.

Shuttleworth has done a lot right for the PC and open source industry. His time and resources -- coupled with the Ubuntu community -- helped to give the world a viable desktop alternative to Windows. And now, Ubuntu is finding some additional momentum on servers and in the cloud.

Still, mobile is a different game. You can't hack together a beautiful device with tightly integrated software and online services by raising a few million dollars or calling on the open source world for free development. Ubuntu Edge and its third-party supporters learned that lesson.

But has Canonical?