Before it was real we called it the CrunchPad, now we can call the JooJoo dead. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington had a vision for a $100 web-only tablet device. A company called Fusion Garage was contracted to build the device, but they later broke away and decided to release the product themselves. The legal wrangling over that still isn't resolved. The renamed JooJoo hit the market just weeks before the iPad. Unfortunately for Fusion Garage, it wasn't nearly as successful.
The web browser-based tablet sold for $500, and ran on netbook hardware. This meant it was heavy and produced too much heat for its size. Buggy software was apparently the nail in the coffin for this product. But Fusion Garage is moving forward. The follow-up to the JooJoo is apparently in the works over at Fusion Garage, but this time it will be running Android. Anyone want to take bets on how this one will do?
The JooJoo has gone through some changes since it ceased to be the CrunchPad when the partnership of Arrington and Fusion Garage broke down. Among those changes is a new home screen UI and improved virtual keyboard. There’s also expanded codec support for playing local media.
The old home screen was sort of a disaster. The background was a solid color and the icons were black tiles with various website logos in them. Then there was the confusing pinch to go back gesture. The new set up is much improved with high resolution user customizable backgrounds and much more attractive icons. The pinch gesture has been replaced with a more intuitive swipe.
The new keyboard can be used in a smaller one-handed mode that can be moved around the screen, or in full screen mode. It also fully supports multitouch complete with chording (registering multiple simultaneous presses). We’re also hearing you can plug in mass storage and play almost any video format under the sun including AVI, DivX/XviD, MKV, MPEG-4, and MOV. The JooJoo is set to ship later this month. At $499 it’s priced the same as the low end iPad. Is anyone planning to pick one up?
Arrington’s lawsuit claims “Fraud and Deceit, Misappropriation of Business Ideas, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Unfair Competition and Violations of the Lanham Act.” The suit seeks both damages and an injunction against Fusion Garage’s marketing the JooJoo, which Arrington says is built on intellectual property that is part his.
Arrington also offers potential JooJoo pre-buyers a warning: Fusion Garage is broke, so any payments you make for a JooJoo will probably be used to defend the lawsuit, not produce you a nifty tablet computer. So beware...beware!
And, as a parting shot, the bio for Rathakrishnan at CrunchBase has been changed to add: “Chanda is also a patent holder in the area of operating systems, possibly for the custom OS that can be found on Fusion Garage’s soon-to-be failure of a tablet named the JooJoo.”
The quick-and-dirty of the tale is this: Michael Arrington of TechCrunch announced the death of the CrunchPad on November 30. He related the cause of death to be Rathakrishnan and unnamed investors who decided they would be better off without Arrington’s participation. In Arrington’s view he’s part owner of the intellectual property behind the CrunchPad, so without some agreement on terms Fusion Garage wouldn’t have a product to sell.
Rathakrishnan struck back today. Not only is Fusion Garage prepared to produce and sell the 12.1-inch web tablet, it is planning to do so this week. Rathakrishnan also clarified the cause of the TechCrunch-Fusion Garage break-up to be Arrington, who Rathakrishnan says “was completely unable to deliver.”
The background probably isn’t as important as the product itself. Details are limited, but the JooJoo will have a 12.1-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi, ebook capability, the ability to deliver full HD video, and, according to Rathakrishnan, “the fastest bootup sequence out there.” It will also cost $499, more than double what Arrington had projected.
Whether the JooJoo will see the light of day is another matter. Come Friday we’ll have a better idea on where this little saga goes next.
We've seen some pretty incredible products released in 2009, from the iPhone 3Gs and blistering-fast videocards to the timely release of Windows 7. Unfortunately, there have also been a number of exciting technologies that didn't make it out this year, despite widespread hype and high expectations. We've taken it upon ourselves to call out the worst offenders. Read on for our list of the ten most notable technologies that got prematurely announced, delayed, or outright cancelled in 2009.
According to Arrington, the CEO of Arrington’s partner, Chandra Rathakrishnan, told him, by email, three days before the CrunchPad’s coming out party, that his investors were pulling out their support, and that Arrington and his crew would no longer be associated with the project. The project itself wasn’t necessarily dead, but in a Machiavellian move by Rathakrishnan, it would be turned over to Fusion Garage, the group that has been working with Arrington on the latest revision, Prototype C, of the CrunchPad.
What happens next in the saga is unclear. Arrington, who is “completely perplexed as to what happened,” maintains the project “self destructed over nothing more than greed, jealousy and miscommunication.” And that the “legal system will work it all out over time.” This suggests that further development on the CrunchPad, in whatever reincarnation, will be on hold for some time to come.
The tech talk for much of the year has centered around upcoming tablets from Apple, Microsoft, and TechCrunch co-founder Michael Arrington, but to date, not one of them has come through. Will we ever see a next-gen tablet from one of these three? We certainly will, says Arrington, who insists that his CrunchPad tablet is "streamrolling along."
Arrington added that the upcoming CrunchPad will sell for between $300 and $400. It will sport a 12-inch touchscreen and come equipped with an Intel Atom processor (what else?).
Even though Arrington is adamant about an imminent release, some journalists wonder if the expected price tag won't render the CrunchPad irrelevant from day 1.
"While the project apparently isn't dead, I do still think there's a chance it will be DOA. For $300 to $400 I don't really see why anyone would buy a dedicated Web device instead of a fully functional computer," wrote Brad of Liliputing. "By the time the CrunchPad is available, you might even be able to pick up a touchscreen tablet style netbook in the $00 range. You can already get the Eee PC T91/T91MT for around $500 to $550."
Arrington did say he's exploring ways to cut back production costs, some of which include negotiating soft revenue and sponsorship opportunities.
We've been hearing about TechCrunch's CrunchPad for a year now, and according to The New York Times, the sexy looking tablet will soon become a reality at an affordable point.
Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, apparently plans to hold an event at the end of July or beginning of August to make an announcement about the CrunchPad. Arrington also promised that it would be for sale "as soon as possible."
Barring any last minute changes, the CrunchPad's sole puprose will be to surf the Web. As soon as you turn it on, a Web browser pops up. The tablet will not come with a hard drive or keyboard, although Arrington said users can plug in a keyboard if they wanted to. Intel's Atom processor will run the "Internet consumption device."
Arrington said the CrunchPad will cost less than $300.