Arrington ends CrunchPad project

Mike Arrington writes that the CrunchPad project has self-destructed over greed, jealously and miscommunication. Short version: the hardware partner tried to screw him and it is now lawsuit time. This is a real shame, because the low-end tablet had a great design, was open to hackers, and represented a valiant independent effort to break into a market dominated by enormous corporations.


  1. :O

    I hadn’t read about the CrunchPad until now, but it looks like something that would be great to have around the house, and at the $300 price point they mentioned, would have been a decent investment.

    I’m amazed at the lack of understanding Fusion Garage showed in their emails. Don’t they realize how IP works? You can’t work with a partner for a year and a half, then kick him out and sell it by yourself. By that same logic, TechCrunch could do the same thing. How even more insulting for them to pass it off as no big thing. “Yeah, we’re just going to go ahead without you. See ya.”

    It’s sad to think this could well mean the complete loss of a finished project. I really hope TechCrunch pursues legal action over this, because it would be a shame for it to disappear, but a catastrophe for the greedy bastards at Fusion Garage to make a profit off of it.

  2. i have a post about this on MAKE…

    When there was a lot of buzz about the CrunchPad many curious gadget fans asked me about their “open source” and “open source hardware” tablet. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen, it’s expensive, margins are tough, doing hardware is hard. A lot of web commenters said “exactly, this is so easy now” just get some screens, load up linux and have it boot in to a browser, it’s a weekend project, DONE!”. For folks who do hardware there’s more to it than that beyond demo-ware.

    I also was worried about the marketing of the CrunchPad said “open source” just to get good will and support, this happens a lot.

    Here’s what was said…

    In the founding July 21, 2008 manifesto “We Want A Dead Simple Web Tablet For $200. Help Us Build It. Michael Arrington wrote: “So let’s design it, build a few and then open source the specs so anyone can create them.” “If everything works well, we’d then open source the design and software and let anyone build one that wants to.”

    On the “The End Of The CrunchPad” post Mike writes…

    It was so close I could taste it. Two weeks ago we were ready to publicly launch the CrunchPad. The device was stable enough for a demo. It went hours without crashing. We could even let people play with the device themselves – the user interface was intuitive enough that people “got it” without any instructions. And the look of pure joy on the handful of outsiders who had used it made the nearly 1.5 year effort completely worth it.

    This sounds like it’s in a good spot to open up the designs, right? So as a follow up I’ve asked if they’re going to stick to what they said. I’m hoping they publish something.

    I posted my question on TechCrunch…

    mike – phil from MAKE magazine here. you said many times that the project was an open source project (the hardware and the software) – where are the files, the schematics, the source code, the PCB files, etc? is it correct to assume that “fusion garage” is not going to release any source or continue this project as an open source (software/hardware project)? if that’s the case it seems like “open source” was used again just to get good will and marketing and not really put any value in.

  3. Re: #2 – It would seem to me that, as the parties are at this point entering litigation, it would be imprudent to release any materials to the public which could be presented by the opposition as an attempt to destroy the value of a property currently in dispute. The lawyers hired by Fusion Garage would have a field day with an open release of design/construction specs while “ownership” of them was on its way to a courtroom. Rather than being provocative to Arrington, wouldn’t it instead be a good thing to approach him with the idea of “hey, if you’re not going to be able to do anything with these hardware designs due to this Charlie Foxtrot – why not go ahead and release them openly like you said you’d planned to as soon as the case is resolved?”

    I would agree that it appears that Fusion Garage never intended to be a good-faith player in making this a form of open source hardware, and I would suppose that they seem to think that because Arrington stated his willingness to give it away to everyone they could get away with stealing the project from him entirely and keeping it to themselves to profit from. But saying that it was all just smoke and mirrors entirely, from every participant in the product’s development, seems not only premature but also presumptive.

  4. NO! I really was looking forward to the CrunchTablet. It was almost exactly what I was looking for to replace my old tablet and now it’ll never come ;-;

  5. I always thought the cruchpad was a ploy to worm their way into the industry to find out more about an apple tablet.

    You can find out a lot about what people are putting into production by what you can and can’t get ahold of for a smaller project.

    Then again, my little conspiracy theory gives TechCrunch a lot more credit than they probably deserve.

  6. The Crunchpad IP could be with Fusion Garage…Techcrunch did not put in a single cent
    in the whole development.

  7. Fusion Garage Shareholder 1 (FGS1): what’s this open source thing?

    Chandra: it means we release the detailed specs for the whole thing. And we allow everyone to do whatever they want. Our customers would be able to extend it, adding features and functions we couldn’t dream of making ourselves, even if we had an R&D dept of 10,000 people.

    FGS1: would this “other people” be able to build a clone machine that will compete with us?

    Chandra: well, yes, theoretically. But we haven’t yet made everything public yet.

    FGS1: Our partners here. This TechCrunch. They built this product for us?

    Chandra: Not exactly. We both work on the product together. It’s just about ready. We will demo the final prototype in 2 weeks.

    FGS1: TechCrunch mostly work on development, and we do manufacturing and marketing?

    Chandra: Yes.

    FGS1: It doesn’t seem fair to me. We seem to be doing more work. So now that the machine is done, they can just lay back and enjoy the profits, while we have to work on the manufacturing and marketing. Why do we still need them now? If other people can legally clone our machine, I don’t see why we cannot do it ourselves. Why do we need to share the profits with them?

    Chandra: Well, they’re really nice people. And some of them are my good friends.

    FGS2: I think FGS1 is right. At the very least, we should renegotiate the agreement. Now we are in a stronger position. You shouldn’t expect us to forgo future profits just to please your friends. After all, you own less than 1% of FG. I’m sure if we call a board meeting, we can get this matter resolved.

    Chandra: let’s not be too hasty here. I’ll send them an email and see what more we can get.

  8. I’ll put this next to my unicorn and Leprechaun. It will be a nice addition to my collection…

Comments are closed.