Is the CrunchPad - JooJoo Battle For Real?

Maybe it was just Michael Arrington's way of getting his name off a project whose final outcome was going to be a dog?

The bowser in question being Arrington's CrunchPad tablet computer, that came in at a mere 250 percent of the selling price originally promised.

Fusion Garage, Arrington's former partner, Monday said it has renamed the device as the "JooJoo" and that sales would begin on Friday. But, at $499, the much-storied device is effectively dead-on-arrival. (Last week, it was dead-before-arrival).

As a $200 tablet computer, which is what Arrington initially said he was building, the device was interesting mostly because of low price. It didn't seem likely that Arrington--or anyone--could build such a device and the skeptics turned out to be right.

And there may be lawyers ahead.

Arrington, himself an attorney, claims his TechCrunch blog owns rights to the JooJoo and contributed technology and resources. He's threatened to sue Fusion Garage for cutting him out of the deal. Nasty break-ups are not auspicious starts for new products. Unless, of course, they are part of the plan.

As introduced on Monday, the device seems overpriced compared to everything it competes with. And it may start shipping just about them time Apple releases its supposed tablet.

Granted, Apple's tablet may cost every bit of $800, but would you rather buy something from a 12-person start-up that has trouble with Mike Arrington, or a 75,000-employee company that has trouble with lots of people?

There is also Google's Chrome OS sitting out on the horizon, not to mention Android, which already runs on tablets. And, of course, there are the various e-readers, which typically cost less than the CrunchPad/JooJoo.

If someone had simply introduced the device without the major flap we've all been watching, nobody would care about it. "Unknown Company Introduces Uninspired Device" might be the headline.

Now, I am certainly not accusing anybody, but is it possible that someone realized that without "something special" to push it along, the CrunchPad/JooJoo would never earn back even its development costs?

Perhaps this fight, real or put-on, will help the JooJoo get a start in the world. Even if it doesn't deserve one.

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

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