The JooJoo is a startup-built tablet that came up first as TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington’s CrunchPad. The product’s launch was tarnished by a legal fight between Arrington and Fusion Garage, the company he partnered with to build the thing, after the design firm informed him they planned to sell the gadget themselves, changing their name to JooJoo in the process.
But lawsuits are boring. Will people who pre-ordered get their tablets? And if so, when?
The company began taking orders at $499 per JooJoo on Dec. 11 of last year, promising to get them into customers’ hands in “eight to ten weeks.” Seven weeks later, I emailed JooJoo yesterday to ask for a statement on when they planned to ship, and what they thought of Apple’s iPad, which starts at the same price.
I’ve never gotten a response from JooJoo about anything. Apple PR doesn’t answer their mail, either, but at least that company pushes out a lot of marketing messages and sells nearly $50 billion worth of products and services per year. JooJoo has been completely silent since putting out a statement on Arrington’s lawsuit in December.
It’s disappointing, because the JooJoo story is a good one. A lawyer-turned-journalist spots what he thinks is a hole in the space on which he reports. He pulls together a product design and hires out the rest of the work. Arrington also claims to have cut a deal with a big-box retailer not only to carry the device, but to cover all his up-front costs.
Notably, the JooJoo’s touchscreen is even more ambitious than the iPad’s: Apple’s screen is less then 10 inches diagonal. JooJoo’s is 12.1 inches, nearly the size of an Apple MacBook screen. It has more than 300 extra rows of pixels, too. Any engineer knows that making something 30 percent bigger is a lot more than 30 percent harder. If it works, the JooJoo’s screen will be its killer feature.
It’s unlikely the JooJoo will match Apple’s gesture-driven applications, but functionally they’re not necessary. A solid HTML5-supporting browser would let JooJoo owners use Web 2.0 browser-based apps to do everything — email, music, photos, video, social networks, etc. If that’s good enough for Google’s Chrome OS, it’s good enough for the JooJoo.
I’m hoping to get an update from the company soon.