December 08, 2009, 8:01 AM — The CrunchPad name may be dead, but the product survives. In spite of Michael Arrington's very public announcement of pending litigation, Fusion Garage (the company that Arrington was working on the CrunchPad with) is ready to go ahead with the launch of the device under a new name: the JooJoo.
Yesterday Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan held a video conference telling his side of the story, saying of Arrington "Unfortunately, Michael was unable to deliver. Michael was completely unable to deliver." (VentureBeat covers the conference nicely) and then he met with CNET to show off the device in person. See Hands-on with the JooJoo & JooJoo first look.
So the JooJoo is a real product and apparently Fusion Garage is going to start accepting pre-orders on Friday with a ship date in the next 8-10 weeks. CNET seemed to like the device quite a bit, but there's just one problem. The price? $500.
That's going to be a deal breaker for most potential customers. When Arrington first announced the CrunchPad he was talking about a $200 price. Then it crept to $300 and then $400 and every time the price rose the device looked less appealing. $500 seems very high for a device that does absolutely nothing but surf the web.
Keep in mind also that the JooJoo runs on custom software. The Webkit-based browser, which is essentially the OS of the device, has been developed by Fusion Garage. Compare this to a hypothetical (for now) similar device running Chrome OS. With Chrome OS you've got Google's resources to make sure the browser stays current and is continually improved upon. If Fusion Garage collapses, you're out of luck as far as future updates (unless the hacker community embraces the JooJoo).
So far, we've seen no posts from Arrington since Rathakrishnan started talking to the press. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he has to say about the JooJoo. It'll also be interesting to see if Fusion Garage manages to launch this thing or if Arrington will have the legal means to obstruct the launch. Stay tuned: this story isn't finished yet!
Update: Engadget has a hands-on post up this morning, and it includes a video overview of the JooJoo.