Weird! Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch and father of the CrunchPad tablet computer, has blogged that the CrunchPad project is dead. He says that the manufacturing partner in charge of building the CrunchPad attempted to seize control of the device and cut TechCrunch out of its plans. Joint ownership of the project means that it can’t do so, but Arrington says it’s all over.
Mostly though I’m just sad. I never envisioned the CrunchPad as a huge business. I just wanted a tablet computer that I could use to consume the Internet while sitting on a couch. I’ve always pushed to open source all or parts of the project. So this isn’t really about money. It was about the thrill of building something with a team that had the same vision. Now that’s going to be impossible.
The news of the CrunchPad’s death comes a few weeks after rumors of…the CrunchPad’s death. But according to Arrington’s post, the project began to fall apart after the rumors of early November appeared, for a different set of reasons. (The stories had the CrunchPad being too costly to manufacture to be sold at a reasonable price.)
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. (I’ve owned a bunch of my own personal CrunchPads over the years–they’ve just been clamshell shaped, had keyboards, run Windows, and come from companies such as Apple, Asus, and Sony.)
If the CrunchPad was really as close to being ready for prime time as Arrington says–he writes that its makers were about to start taking orders–you gotta think there’s a decent chance that it’s not really dead–only resting. Would you buy a CrunchPad, or something vaguely like a CrunchPad, if it were to come to market?