The CrunchPad, a highly anticipated 12-inch tablet computer that was named as one of the 10 "most brilliant products" of this yearby Popular Mechanics magazine, re-emerged yesterday as the Joo Joo. A legal battle over the Web-surfing device, no matter what its name, is likely to come.
The Joo Joo — an African term for "magical," its developer says "because this device delivers magic" — will cost $499, putting it well above the $300 to $400 price range initially envisioned for the tablet by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.
Web-surfing tablets with 10- to -12-inch screens have been much in the news this year, although few have made an appearance yet. Both Apple and Microsoft are supposedly working on tablet devices. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
The CrunchPad was going to be released before the end of the year, Arrington had said. However, last week he announced that it was dead because of differences between he and the co-developer, Fusion Garage.
Monday, Fusion Garage CEO and founder Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan said his company is proceeding ahead with the device and will start to take orders online from buyers Friday, with the intent of delivering the Joo Joo in eight to 10 weeks.
"I know what I am and what I am not," Rathakrishnan said in the webcast. "I'm an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by spirit."
He also criticized Arrington for his "dramatic flair" in the remarks he has made regarding theft and betrayal.
"Michael made many promises suggesting he will deliver on hardware, deliver on software, deliver on funding — none of which came true. We had to move on," Rathakrishnan said in a webcast Monday.
Meanwhile, Arrington, an attorney who has hinted at litigation, noted Friday on his site that "It has been a busy week for our former partners on the CrunchPad. The company has deleted their corporate blog, taken the time to hire a PR firm and schedule an event Monday morning to 'give their side of the story.'
"They still have not returned our calls or e-mails. But they have spoken to press, and say that their side of the story has two key elements. First, that none of this was a surprise and we knew they were likely to break ties with us. And second that TechCrunch hasn’t done anything to help build the CrunchPad and therefore has no rights to the device."
The CrunchPad garnered interest and early praise, based on prototypes, and was honored by Popular Mechanics in its November issue. Originally, Arrington proposed it as a device that would cost a few hundred dollars, but manufacturing estimates quickly pushed it up to the $300 to $400 range.
"It cannot be delivered to the market at that price," Rathakrishnan said Monday.
The Joo Joo will have a 12.1-inch capacitive touchscreen — "the largest screen of any device of its kind on the market today," he said — a 4-gigabyte solid-state drive and about 5 hours of battery life. He said the device will be able to start up and connect to the Internet in 9 seconds.
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