Farewell to CrunchPad and Open Design
When the idea for CrunchPad was floated in 2008 — not long ago, even in cyberspace time — it was heralded as a new type of design undertaking. Today we're told that the CrunchPad is dead, and, some think, so is the concept of open design that it was founded on.
The CrunchPad project team hoped to premiere a uniquely appealing form factor. Conceived as a 12” browser-hosting tablet, with a price tag many thought woefully optimistic (originally $200), it had attracted both curious onlookers and dismissive skeptics. Among a bevy of complaints, perhaps the loudest was that the device, set at a realistic price point, would fare poorly again more richly-featured smartphones, netbooks, Kindle-kin and whatever Apple and Microsoft propose for this niche.
From the outside, the CrunchPad project featured trappings of textbook New Economy business model stuff, notably extremely rapid product development cycle and multi-enterprise teaming. Wikipedia's version of the tale has it that the first prototype was shown only 30 days after the project’s inception, and an impressive-looking second version only a half-year later built by Spectrum Plastics Dynacept, a rapid prototyping shop. Only last July, Michael Arrington (Techcrunch) disclosed formation of a "Crunchpad Inc" in Singapore and Louis Monier (AltaVista, eBay, Google) appeared to be actively spearheading work with partner Singapore-based FusionGarage as design lead.
Not all sides in the dispute have been heard from, but apparently the managers at FusionGarage have retained Tiger Woods' publicist. They, like Mr. Woods, concluded that it's better to remain silent than to be forthcoming with responsible commentary — in this case, commentary that acknowledges the hard work of a multinational team that goes beyond Mr. Arrington. The FusionGarage silence allows opinions to be shaped around the world based on a bland and now-irrelevant Feb 2009 FusionGarage blog post (which went oddly offline as we went to press).Continued on the next page