After an uncertain few months, it looks like JooJoo/CrunchPad maker Fusion Garage is going under. According to a leaked document sent to Business Insider, creditors are preparing to force the company into liquidation. The total owed to investors by FusionGarage is said to be in the neighborhood of $40 million.
When Fusion Garage announced the Grid 10 tablet at $499, most potential buyers had a little chuckle. In the wake of the TouchPad fire sale and the massive success of the iPad 2, that price seemed far too high. Today Fusion Garage has dropped the price of pre-orders by $200 to a mere $299 for the 10-inch slate.
Tablets have traditionally been a jinxed lot. Therefore, it should not surprise anybody when another bites, or threatens to bite, the dust. Anyways, Fusion Garage surely must have embarked on its thrilling journey to break this jinx with a lot of hope.
But its dream of making a real dent in the tablet market had only yielded 90 pre-orders until mid-February, according to financial information Paypal shared for the sake of the ongoing TechCrunch Lawsuit. FG began accepting pre-orders for the JooJoo on December 11, 2009. The document further reveals that 15 of those orders stand canceled and have been refunded.
The abysmal lack of response perfectly explains the many delays that plagued the device, which was supposed to debut late last month but kept getting delayed. It is still not clear whether those first to order it have begun receiving their JooJoo's or not – pre-orders were supposed to begin shipping Monday, March 29. No, we don't know where you can pre-order your favorite soon-to-be-bankrupt companies.
The JooJoo web tablet has finally started shipping after a few delays. The tablet, which started life as the Crunchpad, should be in lucky customers’ hands bu Mach 29th. The JooJoo was supposed to ship earlier this month but maker Fusion Garage cited production issues. Many expected the JooJoo to miss the assumed goal of shipping before the iPad.
The tablet differs from the iPad in that it boots directly into a web browser. It’s also a bit larger than the iPad with a 12-inch widescreen capacitive display. Being based around the browser, the JooJoo has support for various plug-ins including Flash 10.1. There’s also support for playback of various content on flash media. The interface got a heavy redesign just recently including a much improved software keyboard.
The JooJoo is rumored to run on an Intel Atom CPU, so we’re a little skeptical of Fusion Garage’s battery life claims. Anyone out there order one? Let us know when you get it.
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?
Besides counting down to the JooJoo's launch, it is actively lobbying potential investors. The company said that it has received a fresh investment from the CSL Group, a Malaysian mobile device OEM and distributor.
"This is [a] landscape changing manufacturing agreement in the CE hardware market in much the same way Dell changed the PC business model with its direct to consumer sales approach back in the 1990s," Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan said in a statement.
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.
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.