I guess by now most of you have heard about the death of CrunchPad and it’s reborn as Joo Joo. For those who don’t know the background story, the CrunchPad was an idea by TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington to make a simple web tablet based on Open Source Operating System that cost $200.
Mike Arrington/TechCrunch partnered with Louis Monier and Singapore based company Fusion Garage to create the web tablet called CrunchPad. But on 30 Nov, Mike Arrington blog about the death of CrunchPad because of disagreement between TechCrunch and Fusion Garage. Fusion Garage’s CEO, Chandra Rathakrishnan, held a video press conference with the US press on 7 Dec, showing off the new CrunchPad which has been renamed as Joo Joo. Fusion Garage will go ahead and sell the Joo Joo without TechCrunch. Mike Arrington has filed a lawsuit against Fusion Garage.
Firstly, let me talk abit about the new name for CrunchPad. It’s obvious that if Fusion Garage wants to sell the tablet without TechCrunch, they will need a new name for it. (Strangely, the name CrunchPad was filed for trademarked by TechCrunch only when talks broke down) And I’m not the only person to remark that Joo Joo is a horrible name. According to Fusion Garage, Joo Joo means magic in Africa. Who the heck come up with this horrible name? Ever since the name was announced, the local tech community is joking about it. The latest joke is “Do you know why is it called the Joo Joo? It was created somewhere between Joo Koon and Joo Chiat”.
And how can Fusion Garage go about selling the CrunchPad/Joo Joo without TechCrunch? We don’t know who came about this web tablet idea first. But I do know that it is TechCrunch that popularizes the concept. Fusion Garage has been working with TechCrunch and even flew their team to US for 6 months to work at TechCrunch’s office. TechCrunch staff also flew down to Singapore. Fusion Garage claim that TechCrunch did not contribute a single line of codes at all and Mike Arrington fails to deliver. But TechCrunch/Mike Arrington gave Fusion Garage the best publicity a startup could receive. Think about this, if Fusion Garage did not work with TechCrunch and created the Joo Joo on their own, do you think any of the US media would be interested in their press conference? I guess not many. To say that Mike Arrington fails to deliver is undermining his contribution to the project.
And if TechCrunch really didn’t contribute, why is it that Fusion Garage only broke up with TechCrunch on 17 Nov, 3 days before the launch date?
The estimated pricing of the CrunchPad/Joo Joo keep rising. When Mike Arrington first blog about the idea, he said it should cost around $200. I guess the price is one of the major selling point (Just like netbooks). But that estimate is nowhere close to the actual price of the Joo Joo. The Joo Joo is now available for pre-order for $499. That is $299 more than the initial projected cost. Who would want to spend US$499 on a table that can only surf net? I would rather use that money to buy a netbook which can do more than the Joo Joo. They simply got the price point wrong. And when it comes to device like this, the pricing is a major factor.
If you look at the hands on video by Engadget, you will notice that the Joo Joo’s touch sensitivity is pretty bad. Chandra was having difficulties even when typing a short URL like “www.google.com”. Honestly, I think I’ll break the device in frustration before I could finish typing a 140 character tweet. And the keyboard could be better if they make it bigger and make full use of the 12.1 inch screen. How is anyone going to type a short email with this?
The Joo Joo has API for website developers to extend functionality like notifications. But how many Joo Joo is Fusion Garage expecting to sell? Who will have the time to develop functionality specially for the Joo Joo if there is only a small market. We all know that to make a product successful, you need to get developers onboard to write for your product.
The Joo Joo is now available for pre-order at US$499. But it will only ship in 8 to 10 weeks. That’s 2 or 2 1/2 months wait. And everyone is saying that Apple’s rumored Tablet will be announced during this coming January’s keynote. Why would anyone want to place a pre-order before hearing what Apple might be offering?
And how is Fusion Garage going to distribute the Joo Joo? Merely by online ordering? Then what about product support? Where do customers send their faulty Joo Joo for repair? And what if Fusion Garage lost the lawsuit by TechCrunch and is forced to stop selling the Joo Joo? That means end of development and support for that brand new $499 gadget you just bought.
Honestly, with all these controversies surrounding the Joo Joo, I wouldn’t recommend any of my friends to buy it now. If you are really interested in a internet tablet for couch surfing, wait till most of the problem I’ve stated above is solved before putting your money in. Anyway, you can’t order the Joo Joo now if you are living in Singapore (Or anywhere outside US).