Michael Arrington's original vision for his CrunchPad remains compelling. It's just that the device, renamed the JooJoo and introduced by Fusion Garage, is way too expensive. That doesn't make the idea bad, just the product a failure.
Some will say those of two sides of the same coin. Yet, by ratcheting back its ambition--not to mention screen size and price--the JooJoo could yet become something approaching a success.
Arrington initially targeted a $200 price point. Had he achieved it, street talk about the JooJoo would be very different. People would be lining up to purchase one.
At the actual price, $499, a few devices will be sold, but nothing like the potential market Arrington had targeted.
Of course, it doesn't take a genius to imagine a product whose primary feature is low price.
It's just hard to deliver something that has eluded the rest of the world. Why Arrington thought he could produce something that Asia Inc. had missed may be the more perplexing question of the whole and somewhat sad CrunchPad/JooJoo story.
However, even if Arrington and his (former) friends cannot deliver today, there may come a time when something more like the original CrunchPad concept can emerge phoenix-like from the ashes of the JooJoo. It could even be later this year.
The key appears to be decreasing the screen size to bring the price down. I'd love to see what the Fusion Garage folks could deliver for $299. Make it compatible/competitive with e-readers and the potential for a win still exists.
The current JooJoo could be the high-end model and the smaller-screen model aimed more at reading than browsing. Like the Kindle e-reader, the JooJoo could be offered in two sizes at appropriate price points.
In getting a prototype complete, Fusion Garage has shown it can actually create a product and do some smart things with it.
Turning the existing JooJoo into a smaller device that combines the best features of what exists today (great user interface, good screen, etc.) with a more agreeable price is the best way to go.
If the JooJoo can magically drop in price from the current $499 down to Arrington's initial "under $200" or even a $300 price point, it has a chance for success. If not, it will continue to warm a seat in Darwin's waiting room.