Arrington: CrunchPad Project Is DOA


The project to build the CrunchPad tablet PC has "self-destructed," according to TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. TechCrunch's partner in the CrunchPad venture, Singapore-based FusionGarage, broke off plans for a Nov. 20 launch of the low-cost, 12-inch Web surfing device, Arrington wrote in a blog post Monday.

"On November 17, our deadline date for greenlighting the [CrunchPad] debut three days later, the CEO of our partner on the project, Chandra Rathakrishnan, sent me an e-mail with the subject 'no good news,'" Arrington wrote. "... Bizarrely, we were being notified that we were no longer involved with the project. Our project. Chandra said that based on pressure from his shareholders he had decided to move forward and sell the device directly through FusionGarage, without our involvement."

Arrington described FusionGarage's purported actions as "the equivalent of Foxconn, who build the iPhone, notifiying Apple a couple of days before launch that they'd be moving ahead and selling the iPhone directly without any involvement from Apple."

FusionGarage is not legally entitled to sell the CrunchPad without approval from TechCrunch, Arrington contended.

"We jointly own the CrunchPad product intellectual property, and we solely own the CrunchPad trademark. So it's legally impossible for them to simply build and sell the device without our agreement," he wrote.

TechCrunch and FusionGarage kicked off their project to build a $200 tablet PC in the summer of 2008. By April 2009, the partners had built "Prototype C" of what they dubbed the CrunchPad, and by the proposed November launch date, they had a CruchPad that "was stable enough for a demo," according to Arrington.

By that time, the first CrunchPads were reportedly priced at $400.

"It was so close I could taste it," Arrington wrote on his blog Monday, claiming that TechCruch had "put 1,000 of the devices on pre-sale and [was taking] orders immediately," with volume production of the CrunchPad planned for early 2010.

Instead, the CrunchPad project "self-destructed over nothing more than greed, jealousy and miscommunication," according to Arrington.

"Mostly though I'm just sad," he wrote. "I'm enraged, embarrassed and just sad."

The apparent rift between Arrington and FusionGarage isn't the first to be publicly addressed by the TechCrunch founder. Arrington wrote that he was "completely rips--t mad" after FusionGarage's Rathakrishnan revealed certain CrunchPad specs in a July interview with the Singapore Straits Times.