CrunchPad, We Hardly Knew Ye

By  |  Monday, November 30, 2009 at 9:12 am

Weird! Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch and father of the CrunchPad tablet computer, has blogged that the CrunchPad project is dead. He says that the manufacturing partner in charge of building the CrunchPad attempted to seize control of the device and cut TechCrunch out of its plans. Joint ownership of the project means that it can’t do so, but Arrington says it’s all over.

Mostly though I’m just sad. I never envisioned the CrunchPad as a huge business. I just wanted a tablet computer that I could use to consume the Internet while sitting on a couch. I’ve always pushed to open source all or parts of the project. So this isn’t really about money. It was about the thrill of building something with a team that had the same vision. Now that’s going to be impossible.

The news of the CrunchPad’s death comes a few weeks after rumors of…the CrunchPad’s death. But according to Arrington’s post, the project began to fall apart after the rumors of early November appeared, for a different set of reasons. (The stories had the CrunchPad being too costly to manufacture to be sold at a reasonable price.)

Arrington has always said that the CrunchPad sprung from his own desire to have a “dead simple” tablet he could use to get online from his couch. I get his desire. Well, mostly: I’ve never been entirely clear why the CrunchPad would be a better couch computer than a more typical, versatile cheap portable computer. (I’ve owned a bunch of my own personal CrunchPads over the years–they’ve just been clamshell shaped, had keyboards, run Windows, and come from companies such as Apple, Asus, and Sony.)

If the CrunchPad was really as close to being ready for prime time as Arrington says–he writes that its makers were about to start taking orders–you gotta think there’s a decent chance that it’s not really dead–only resting. Would you buy a CrunchPad, or something vaguely like a CrunchPad, if it were to come to market?

 
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8 Comments For This Post

  1. AllRise Says:

    TechCrunch VS. Fusion Garage is now online at the AllRise court. Join the debate and cast your vote – http://bit.ly/AllRise277

  2. Chris Heath Says:

    Right. If they were trying to cut him out and go it alone then they just would, and he’d have to sue them (which looks like is going to happen no matter what, i guess).

    So yeah, looks like we’ll see the CrunchPad sometime next year.

    Still before the Apple Tablet, so Mike at least gets credit for that.

  3. AndyatCPR Says:

    What a mess. We may see the CrunchPad eventually, but not until after the two parties sort out who owns the IP.

  4. Dave Mathews Says:

    This is another example of a product that was wonderfully ahead of its time, received the arrows in its back, then died. Two years ago, when we heard of it, the iPhone was a demo, Chrome was not an OS, and Atom was a dream.

    Today, Atom notebooks running OS-X (my favorite) or Windows 7 give you longish battery life, bigger screens and actual “working” usability over the iPhone, which serves its niche as a wonderful always-connected media consumption device.

    The biggest problem with the Crunchpad was going to be hardware bill of materials, they could never compete with the Atom Netbooks on price. As for usability, we could only hope that they could rip-off the capacitive touchscreen interaction and software + UI that Apple has trained millions of users how to use via the iTouch & iPhone.

    Kindle’s and their me-too products are a toy, but will grow into the dream of a Crunchpad.

  5. KevinLWright Says:

    I would encourage anyone who is upset by these actions to sign the petition “Without Arrington I Wont Buy A CrunchPad” at http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/CrunchPad/

  6. Mike Cerm Says:

    I just don’t think there’s a market there. I already browse the internet just fine on my Palm Pre. I suspect that millions are happy sitting on the couch with a iPhone/Touch. If I want a better web experience, I grab my netbook. I just don’t see any space between the those two device classes where another $400 device fits in, especially when that device is far more specialized (meaning, less useful) than either a smartphone or a netbook.

  7. Mark Blafkin Says:

    Our IP attorney did a quick analysis of the potential IP issues involved in the Crunchpad saga. In essence, it’s complicated and probably too soon to say it’s really DEAD.

    http://blog.actonline.org/2009/12/thoughts-on-the-crunchpad-saga.html

  8. emr focus Says:

    looks like ipad beat them to the punch huh? lol

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