I have to admit that I'm completely intrigued by the forthcoming CrunchPad, brainchild of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. I asked this weekend if it would be an Ed Tech game changer, and, quite frankly, I think this has the potential to be the biggest thing since the OLPC XO.
However, I think it also has the potential to, for lack of a better phrase, not live up to its potential in much the same way as OLPC has floundered. An interesting feature on TechNewsWorld notes some serious problems that might be "lurking" for Arrington and the new tablet.
Whether the device will be profitable is another concern. The cost of production, including packaging, will be less than $250, and the device could be priced at $300, Arrington said.
However, that does not factor in shipping and distribution costs or the cost of returns, at the very least.
"If he can sell it at around $300 and make money, more power to him," DiDio said. "There will still be questions until we see more details."
And there's the kicker. While Arrington seems to have something of a golden touch, it's hardly a foregone conclusion that this will be successful enough to still be around two or three years down the road. We no longer know which version of Linux he will be running (it looked like Ubuntu was on tap in January, but the CrunchPad is apparently now being developed with another unspecified distribution). Price and profitability are far from certain.
While the idea has incredible possibilities, it's important to remember that this is all still in prototyping. This is not a platform on which we can hang our hats, nor is it one for which we should wait. Make your purchases as planned now. But keep an eye on this segment as it evolves over the next couple of years. It may, in fact, do for MIDs what the OLPC XO did for netbooks. While the XO is no longer the media darling it once was, everyone has a netbook now. The same may be said for the Crunchpad in 2 years when everyone has an Internet tablet in their backpacks.