Tech startup Fusion Garage CEO Chanda Rathakrishnan announced the upcoming debut of the JooJoo, a tablet PC with a 12.1-inch touch screen, during a Dec. 7 Web conference. Fusion Garage will likely be sued by Michael Arrington, founder of popular technology blog TechCrunch, who insists that Fusion Garage stole the concept and designs for his CrunchPad tablet and used that to manufacture the JooJoo.
Tech startup Fusion Garage announced that it will debut the JooJoo
tablet PC with a 12.1-inch touch screen, on Dec. 11 at a price point of $499.
Whether or not the device, announced by Fusion Garage CEO
Chandra Rathakrishnan during a Web conference on Dec. 7, actually meets that
launch date, it will almost certainly be embroiled in legal disputes for some
time to come.
That's because Michael Arrington, founder of popular technology blog TechCrunch
plans on suing Fusion Garage over the JooJoo, which he insists started life as
the CrunchPad, a low-cost tablet primarily meant to surf the Web. In a Nov. 30
blog posting on the site, Arrington said that he planned to debut the CrunchPad
onstage at the Real-Time Crunchup event on Nov. 20.
According to Arrington, the tablet was the furthest thing from vaporware.
"The device was stable enough for a demo. It went hours without
crashing," he wrote.
"We could even let people play with the device themselves-the user
interface was intuitive enough that people -got it' without any
In addition to the ultra-thin form factor, the device included a single
on-off switch, a built-in video camera, low-end speakers, a microphone,
integrated Wi-Fi and a 4GB solid-state hard drive.
But according to Arrington, the whole 1.5-year project came to an abrupt
end-at least for TechCrunch.
On Nov. 17, Arrington said in his blog posting, Rathakrishnan e-mailed him
to say that TechCrunch was no longer involved in the development of the
CrunchPad: "Chandra said that based on pressure from his shareholders he
had decided to move forward and sell the device directly through Fusion Garage
without our involvement."
Arrington claimed that neither TechCrunch nor Fusion Garage owns the
intellectual property related to the CrunchPad, that development costs and
staffing for the project had been shared between the two entities, and that he
intends to fire a broadside of lawsuits against Fusion Garage.
"The legal system will work it all out over time," Arrington wrote.
"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."
to reporters during the Web conference
, pushed a completely different
version of events.
"Michael made many promises suggesting he will deliver on hardware,
software and funding, none of which came true," the Fusion Garage CEO
said, according to a Los Angeles Times blog posting about the event. "We
had to move on. [Fusion Garage] did the hardware. We had made the software. And
we had secured the funding. Michael did not deliver on his promises, and we
decided to move on."
In addition, Rathakrishnan said he came up with the concept of a cheap,
touch-screen tablet for surfing the Internet, and pitched it to
The legal system will likely work it all out over time.
Long considered a niche part of the tech industry, tablets have seen a
revival of late. Companies such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have
adopted the form factor for their e-readers; Barnes & Noble's device, the
Nook, utilizes a 6-inch e-ink display for reading text alongside an iPhone-like
touch screen for navigating through an online bookstore. Both the Nook and
Amazon.com's Kindle line utilize a 3G connection for downloading books.
The true test of the tablet form factor's viability in the marketplace,
however, could come if Apple releases its long-rumored tablet PC sometime in
2010. Although there have been no official announcements from Apple concerning
such a device, analysts
have spent the past few months fervently conjecturing about the possible
features of such a device.