To make a short story even shorter… Michael Arrington, the head of the blog TechCrunch, back in 2008 promised to develop an Internet tablet for the masses that would carry a very light price tag of $200. On November 30 of this year, Arrington shared a post on his blog titled “The End of the Crunchpad” where he stated that the “entire project self destructed over nothing more than greed, jealousy and miscommunication” with Chandra Rathakrishnan, the CEO of Fusion Garage, the company who was helping form the device.
Flash forward to today and what we have is news that Crunchpad Joojoo Internet tablet will be releasing this month under the Fusion Garage brand with Rathakrishnan at the helm of the project. In fact, at a recent press event where he demoed the device, Rathakrishnan stated that “TechCrunch didn’t contribute a single line of code.” Interesting, huh? He went on to say “There was never any agreement of any kind between the two companies. This was nothing more than a potential acquisition that didn’t occur. Michael sat back while we took all the risk. The suggestion that Michael or TechCrunch owns anything is simply ludicrous.” And with that, Rathakrishnan revealed details of Joojoo (which he explains is an African term for “magical device”).
Some could say it looks like an “over-sized iPhone” because on the surface it’s just one big screen, no buttons. Here’s a rundown of the specs (thanks Gizmodo): “A screen-only tablet that measures 12-inches [1366 x 768], has a [all glass] capacitive touchscreen, runs its own operating system (that’s basically just a browser) and boots in 9 seconds. It will also have a 5 hour battery life, run Wi-Fi only (no 3G) and come in only one color, with 4GB internal storage.” It runs its own operating system that’s basically just a browser, huh? Seems very Google Chrome OS-y to me. In fact, like Chrome OS (and since it only runs a browser-like interface), Joojoo can only run web-based applications. Ports: one USB 2.0, one power input, and audio/headset jacks. External peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, or headset will be supported via USB port or Bluetooth. And it sports a one megapixel webcam on the front for video-conferencing.
The home screen of Joojoo is a series of large icons for the web apps. For example, there’s large icons representing Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, YouTube, and Gmail. After giving it a test-run, Engadget reports that has smooth 1080p playback and the Webkit-based browser includes Silverlight and Flash support. The multitouch screen supports scrolling and pinching, though the latter does not zoom, it brings you back to the homepage. Though the home screen of the demo device lacked notifications, Rathakrishnan promises it will be included in the final unit.
With all kinds of legal action hanging in the balance between Fusion Garage and Arrington, Rathakrishnan stills plans on taking preorders of the Joojoo on December 11 (that’s tomorrow!). It will go on sale for a dream-shattering $500. Rathakrishnan on Arrington’s dream of a $200 device of this nature: “There are dreams, and then there are hallucinations.”
All in all, the saga of the Crunchpad-turned-Joojoo has been an interesting ride and I’m glad that some sort of device is making its way out of the rubble. If/when you arrive, Joojoo, enjoy your place in the Internet tablet realm because we all know that Apple has something up their sleeves.
Check out Engadget and Gizmodo’s hands-on pictures of the Joojoo in the galleries below. Also, after the break is a video of Giz’s hands-on.