JooJoo presence extended to more markets

Fusion Garage brings JooJoo tablet to Singapore and intends to continue expansion, says founder, who remains confident of device's appeal in face of iPad competition.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--With the launch of its JooJoo tablet in Singapore tonight, Fusion Garage "remains confident" the mobile device will sell in more countries globally, said its founder.

In a phone interview Monday with ZDNet Asia, Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan said JooJoo--the device formerly known as CrunchPad--will launch here at the stroke of midnight.

This follows its launch in Japan last week and Europe on Apr. 26. The tablet was first available for shipping to the United States on Mar. 25.

Rathakrishnan said online reports of JooJoo's lackluster sales were "largely exaggerated" and added that the company's ability to roll out the device in different markets is testament to consumer interest in these geographies. According to Gizmodo reports, JooJoo had sold 75 devices as of end-March, though the site later updated that figure to 64 in an April report.

Rathakrishnan declined to reveal how many units have been sold to date, citing the company's court proceedings as a reason for keeping mum. Fusion Garage has been in a legal bind since it withdrew from the CrunchPad project with TechCrunch's founder, Michael Arrington.

Rathakrishnan said the court has heard Fusion Garage's motion to dismiss Arrington's suit, and that he is expecting the results of the lawsuit in about a fortnight.

Facing iPad competition
While the JooJoo's biggest competition may currently be Apple's iPad, the market is likely to see fiercer competition when the likes of Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard unveil their tablets later this year.

And JooJoo's Flash support, which Rathakrishnan touted in an earlier interview with ZDNet Asia, will no longer be a key differentiator over the competition since new market contenders also sport the ability to support Flash as well as OSes such as Windows 7.

However, Rathakrishnan said he "remains confident" of the JooJoo's appeal. "Windows-based tablets are not new. They have not been successful because the use case for [Windows] tablets does not exist.

"People don't want a full-fledged computing experience. They want a Web experience."

Unlike tablets that tweaked desktop OSes with touch interfaces to suit their form factor, he said Fusion Garage built its custom JooJoo OS with touch capabilities in mind.

The device will retail at a price in Singapore close to its U.S. pricetag of US$499, Rathakrishnan said. The Wi-Fi capable iPad without 3G also sells for US$499.

Apple has sold an estimated 2 million units of iPad since the tablet's debut on Apr. 3, according to reports, with research firm IDC projecting that this number will clock in at 4 million to 5 million by the end of this year.

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