Hands up anyone who would love to get their hands on a web tablet for $200 ... that pretty much all of you. OK, now hands up who thinks that Michael Arrington (of TechCrunch fame) can deliver this ...
As much as I'd like to get my hands on a $200 web tablet, a crowdsourcing project is just never going to deliver one. Here's why ...
- OK, $200 ... anyone think that this number if even vaguely reasonable? I don't, unless Arrington is going to be selling these at a loss.
- While on the subject of money, if this device is as yet unspec'ed out, where's the $200 price tag come from? Thin air?
- Name me one other open source hardware project that's worked (I can't think of one).
- Take a look at the 1,500 or so comments on this topic over on TechCrunch/TechCrunchIT so far and you'll see a reason why crowdsourcing doesn't work ... the project is already trying to cater to the needs to 1,500 niche users who each want the web tablet to be what they want it to be.
- Another problem with crowdsourcing is feature-creep ... pretty soon you have a situation where they've either driven the price to the stratosphere, or you're juggling with a range of models.
- If a $200 web tablet was indeed possible then I would have thought that one of the big OEMs would already have one out.
- Getting a product to market involved a lot more than getting the spec of the hardware and software hammered down and sourcing the parts. A LOT more. Think about the sales, marketing, warranty and repairs, a TON of legal mumbo-jumbo (which Arrington, given his background, should already be aware of), packaging, distribution, safety ...
- Arrington is taking on the giants of the tech industry - Apple, ASUS, Nokia, Amazon (Kindle), the OLPC - and hoping that a crowdsource project will give him the edge.
- While it might be possible to build a web tablet for $200 (note I said build ... not sell ...), building a good web tablet (that is good screen, decent battery life, robust enough to handle daily use ...) lies well outside that price.
- As with anything, there's a huge difference between offering help and helping. On a similar note, saying that you'd buy one is far removed from actually buying one.
For now I'm labeling the the $200 web tablet either as wishful thinking or link bait.