Last week the folks at The Business Insider started predicting that Michael Arrington’s CrunchPad tablet was dead. Arrington hadn’t really spoken much about the tablet since this summer, and the Business Insider heard rumors that the rising costs of production were delaying and possibly putting an end to the tablet.
Apparently the reports of the CrunchPad’s death are a bit premature. In this week’s Gillmor Gang video, Arrington says that the CrunchPad is coming along and that it will sell for somewhere between $300 and $400. He says it costs somewhere in the “upper $200s” to build, and that he’s looking at ways to help keep costs down with sponsorship opportunities, sort of the way Firefox makes money for Mozilla through the search box with Google set as the default search engine. Hopefully Arrington is talking about similarly unobtrusive sponsorship.
While the project apparently isn’t dead, I do still think there’s a chance it will be DOA. Arrington says that the CrunchPad, which will feature a 12 inch display and an Intel Atom processor, and a browser will be designed to handle Hulu, YouTube, Gmail, and other web apps. And that’s about it. For $99, I think that would be an awesome device. For $300 to $400 I don’t really see why anyone would buy a dedicated web device instead of a fully functional computer. By the time the CrunchPad is available, you might even be able to pick up a touchscreen tablet style netbook in the $400 range. You can already get the Eee PC T91/T91MT for around $500 to $550.
But Arrington predicts that within a few years web tablets will be just as big as netbooks, with 10s of millions having been sold. It’s not entirely clear whether he’s talking about the CrunchPad alone, or other similar products. He does say that he’s not too concerned about competition from the upcoming Apple Tablet, which he expects to have a smaller screen, but to be significantly more powerful than the CrunchPad while costing 2-3 times as much.
While I’m skeptical that there’s a huge market for web tablets, Arrington does know a thing or two about entrepreneurship. He does run one of the most popular tech blogs on the internet, and blogging is a business he didn’t know much about before he started doing it either. Why not consumer electronics?
You can check out the CrunchPad section of the Gillmor Gang video at about 39 minutes into the video.
via UMPC Portal