Michael Arrington’s promising CrunchPad Tablet PC device was due for imminent launch, but, due to what Arrington claims was an attempt by his business partner to cut him out of the deal because of “pressure from shareholders,” the ownership of the intellectual property is now in dispute. As a result, the project will almost certainly move into a the lawsuit and recrimination phase, and the CrunchPad will likely never be released.This is all very sad. The CrunchPad had a lot of promise, because it was driven by the very best incarnation of the Hacker Ethos. Talented and driven people, who surveyed the marketplace and failed to find a device that met their wants and needs, pulled together hardware and software talent to bring their dreams to reality, and designed a very appealing-looking device. It’s a thin, light, open, relatively inexpensive device for “couch computing,” and because the designers were motivated by a desire to have the device for themselves and make it available to as many others as possible, there were no hidden agendas or app stores or value-added nonsense or artificial limits on use, such as exist in the iPhone or Kindle or Sony eBook ecosystems. I wonder if Michael Arrington’s professed uninterest in large profits contributed to his partners’ attempt to cut him out, since the CrunchPad had the potential of being a very successful project launch.
All that said, the CrunchPad’s not the only inexpensive tablet PC we’re likely to see over the next couple of years, and with projects like Android, Moblin, and Chrome OS on deck, it’s only a matter of time before the kind of vibrancy we’ve seen in the netbook space expands to other form factors, including the tablet, since software seems to be the big stumbling block.