CrunchPad tablet project self-destructs

News site TechCrunch on Monday said that its CrunchPad tablet project has 'self destructed' due to a legal dispute. The touchscreen slate was to have been unveiled soon but is effectively being shut down as the actual developer, Fusion Garage, has claimed it will sell the device without further input from the co-developer and would only carry the CrunchPad name, using site founder Michael Arrington only as a product evangelist.

Arrington has rejected the option and pointed out that the decision, supposedly made under pressure from Fusion Garage's shareholders, amounts to intellectual property theft. TechCrunch had been jointly developing the product and still owns both part of the technology rights as well as the CrunchPad name. The site is filing lawsuits to prevent the sale without its involvement and refuses to accept any counter-offers, comparing it to a contractor betraying its client at the last minute.

"This is the equivalent of Foxconn, [which builds] 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," Arrington wrote.

The project was intended to prove that a web-only, touchscreen device could be made for $300 and was receiving help from multiple sources to reach that price target, including a "major multi-billion dollar retail partner" that would have sold it at cost, steep discounts from Intel for Atom processors, and ad sponsors that would subsidize the cost of the device. It would have carried a 12-inch capacitive touchscreen, run Linux and had just 4GB of storage onboard, instead depending entirely on sites like Hulu, YouTube and others for media and similar features; it could also have theoretically run Google's Chromium OS or even Windows 7.

Many had expected the CrunchPad to stand as an alternative to closed-source and likely more expensive alternatives expected next year that could include, among others, Apple's rumored tablet or a production version of the Microsoft Courier.


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