With CrunchPad dead, the Web reacts

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington says his company's tablet computer, the CrunchPad, is officially dead. We take a look at what the Web is saying about it.

CrunchPad
A prototype of the CrunchPad tablet computer TechCrunch

In a turn of events that has sent the blog world into a frenzy, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington said on Monday that the CrunchPad tablet computer that he announced more than a year ago is officially dead.

According to Arrington, Fusion Garage, his company's manufacturing partner, said that it would take over full control of the CrunchPad project and cut TechCrunch out just days before its debut.

"Bizarrely, we were being notified that we were no longer involved with the project. Our project," Arrington wrote on TechCrunch. "[Fusion Garage CEO] Chandra [Rathakrishnan] said that based on pressure from his shareholders he had decided to move forward and sell the device directly through Fusion Garage, without our involvement."

Fusion Garage, according to Arrington, wanted to offer him the opportunity to "assume the role of visionary/evangelist/marketing head." The company would also acquire Arrington's rights to the CrunchPad name and brand. Arrington said that Fusion Garage and his company "jointly own the CrunchPad product intellectual property," but Arrington's firm solely owns the CrunchPad trademark.

For now, we only know Arrington's side of the story. (Disclosure: I wrote for TechCrunch in 2008.) He claims that he was ready and willing to launch CrunchPad with Fusion Garage. He said that he is "enraged, embarrassed, and just...sad." He plans to unleash a flurry of lawsuits on Fusion Garage.

But as you might expect, TechCrunch isn't providing the only word on the matter. Blogs across the Web are giving their two cents on where they stand on Arrington's announcement and the CrunchPad itself. Some support Arrington and still hope the CrunchPad will hit store shelves. Others aren't so sure.

Let's take a quick look around the Web to find out what others are saying.

Supporters

Gizmodo: "The whole situation is lousy, and FusionGarage certainly doesn't come out looking all that smart in it. I can't imagine anyone wanting to work with them again after this, but I guess we'll have to wait and hear what their side of the story is."

OSNews: "This is all very sad. The CrunchPad had a lot of promise, because it was driven by the very best incarnation of the Hacker Ethos. Talented and driven people, who surveyed the marketplace and failed to find a device that met their wants and needs, pulled together hardware and software talent to bring their dreams to reality, and designed a very appealing-looking device. It's a thin, light, open, relatively inexpensive device for "couch computing," and because the designers were motivated by a desire to have the device for themselves and make it available to as many others as possible, there were no hidden agendas or app stores or value-added nonsense or artificial limits on use, such as exist in the iPhone or Kindle or Sony eBook ecosystems."

Slashgear: "Away from the production wrangles, it's disappointing news both for anybody interested in portable electronics and for those to whom the CrunchPad project represented the potential for individuals and small companies to come up with an idea and make it reality."

Techland: "It seems as though Fusion Garage was being pressured by shareholders to ditch Arrington and co. They seem to forget that Arrington is a former lawyer and a pitbull at that."

Ubergizmo: "Of course, we haven't heard both sides of the story yet, but based on what we've heard (from TC), it all does seem a little sad. At least it has generated its fair share of marketing and publicity for TC, and that's worth something."

Detractors

JKOntheRun: "A basic on-screen keyboard for a 12-inch slate simply won't cut it for most people. It's too large to thumb-type on, which means you'll be holding the device in one hand while pecking with another. And the price is another issue. $300 buys you what I'd consider an equally portable, yet far more function device in either a Netbook or a smartphone. Unless there was a subsidy model in play, a web-only tablet isn't what folks expect for $300 or more."

Technologizer: "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."

Wired: "Arrington's earlier promises regarding the CrunchPad never panned out, and his latest missive only points to his inability to walk the talk."

So while it seems that the Web is split over where they stand on Arrington and the CrunchPad, it's arguably John Gruber over at Daring Fireball who best summed up the CrunchPad news: "No word from Popular Mechanics yet on whether they get to keep their product of the year award."

Now it's your turn. Share your thoughts on the death of the CrunchPad below.

 

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