Damn. Like, well, damn. Michael Arrington just announced that, probably no more than a week or two before shipping boxed product, the Crunchpad is dead. I rarely post two entries on the same day, but I happened on this just a few minutes ago, and it’s important enough not to hold until tomorrow. The problem seems to have come out of nowhere and is shaped something like this: The CEO of Fusion Garage, the firm tasked with manufacturing the Crunchpad device, just popped up in Arrington’s inbox and basically said, We don’t need you anymore and will be making and selling the device ourselves. WTF? And WDHTHIA? Barlennan?
What happened probably happens a lot in certain tech partnerships between small and roughly equal entities: One who thought they held more of the cards wanted a bigger cut of the take than the original agreement gave them. And because both Arrington’s group and Fusion Garage have joint ownership of the various pieces of IP involved, neither can just move ahead and release the product on their own. (Why Fusion Garage doesn’t recognize this is obscure.) Unless this is an extremely clever way to simply kill the project without admitting technical failure (a possibility, but not something I’d expect out of Michael Arrington) the project may be dead on legal grounds.
Or maybe it really was the problematic 12″ capacitive touchscreen that has given these guys pure hell from the outset. Doesn’t matter. I had high hopes for the gadget, which (screw the Web!) would have been a spectacular ebook reader. I dislike the physically small, low-res e-ink readers we now have, because they don’t display technical art well, nor color at all. Comics people have the same gripes, albeit for a different kind of art. There’s no physical law saying that all ebook readers must be the same color-and-resolution-limited, coat-pocketable thing. Books are different.
Again, if the fail was really technical, and all this huggermugger a smokescreen, we won’t see anything out of the ashes. But I do hope that if we’re just seeing tantrums here, something can be worked out.
(Still, is it just me…or did Arrington fold perhaps a little too quickly?)
More here later if I can find it.