The story of the CrunchPad device just won't die. Last week TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced that the project was over and the CrunchPad is dead. However, this morning the CEO of Fusion Garage held an online press conference announcing that it plans to move forward with the device, but rebranded as the JooJoo.
After months of anticipation, and speculation that the development and manufacturing costs might be spiraling out of control, Arrington summed it up by saying "the entire project self-destructed over nothing more than greed, jealousy and miscommunication."
In a Web-based press conference this morning, Fusion Garage CEO Rathakrishnan rejected the notion that the intellectual property rights for the device are shared with TechCrunch and maintained that Fusion Garage has every right to move forward with the project solo now that Fusion Garage and TechCrunch have parted ways.
Pre-orders will be accepted at theJooJoo.com beginning Friday, December 11. However, at $499 for a 12.1" dedicated web browser device that only works over Wi-Fi, it seems like some bad joojoo. I hate to say it, but I think the rumors of the resurrection of the CrunchPad may be greatly exaggerated.
Is there a market for $500 flat-panel Web browser devices? We already have netbooks--many of which come with wireless broadband as well as Wi-Fi connectivity--selling for less than half that right now, and the netbooks have much greater functionality. The JooJoo makes the Nokia Booklet 3G seem like a bargain , and it seems destined to fail as an overpriced niche device.
Assuming the device works as advertised and that there are people with money to spend on such frivolous things, the JooJoo is probably still doomed by litigation. Arrington has stated that TechCrunch will file lawsuits challenging Fusion Garage's right to rebrand and relaunch the CrunchPad.
If there is no injunction prior to theJooJoo.com accepting pre-orders, or even shipping the devices, the success of the device will still be handicapped by the anticipation that the litigation could kill the project and buyers would be left with an overpriced Web-browsing device that was obsolete before it launched.
Fusion Garage has to know that Arrington won't just walk away without a fight. Perhaps today's press conference was a stunt to try and build some buzz and take the battle with TechCrunch into the court of public opinion.
After all of the hype and expectations it seems a shame that it has come to this. Honestly, though, we can already surf the Web on a variety of mobile devices, and there are netbooks with more comprehensive computing capabilities available for half the price of the JooJoo. Do we need a niche device like this?
Lets just skip ahead and call the time of death on JooJoo now.