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TechCrunch knocks off Vulture Central RegPad™

The nonexistent future of couch computing

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The long-rumored TechCrunch CrunchPad does not exist, according to more rumor.

As recently as this summer, the TechCrunch CrunchPad was heralded by TechCrunch as a turning point in the history of couch computing. But according to a new report from TechCrunch, TechCrunch has now been told it's no longer involved in the project.

This, in turn, led TechCrunch to destroy the device. According to TechCrunch.

In a break from its usual protocol, the tech-challenged Silicon Valley bloggy thing backed its story with what would appear to be actual names and email messages. In those alleged messages - from alleged partner Chandra Rathakrishnan of Fusion Garage - TechCrunch is suddenly told that the TechCrunch CrunchPad has been de-TechCrunched.

"Bizarrely, we were being notified that we were no longer involved with the project. Our project," head TechCruncher Michael Arrington writes. "Chandra said that based on pressure from his shareholders he had decided to move forward and sell the device directly through Fusion Garage, without our involvement."

According to TechCrunch, de-TechCrunching the TechCrunch CrunchPad is like de-Appling the Apple iPhone. "This is the equivalent of Foxconn, who build the iPhone, notifiying [sic] Apple a couple of days before launch that they’d be moving ahead and selling the iPhone directly without any involvement from Apple."

TechCrunch says it was preparing to launch the TechCrunch CrunchPad on November 20, after nearly a year and a half of development. Now, it won't launch at all, according to TechCrunch.

In an alleged email, alleged partner Chandra attempted to reach an alleged compromise. "We still acknowledge that Arrington and TechCrunch bring some value to your business endeavor...If he agrees to our terms, we would have Arrington assume the role of visionary/evangelist/marketing head and Fusion Garage would acquire the rights to use the Crunchpad brand and name," he allegedly writes. "Personally, I don’t think the name is all that important but you seem to be somewhat attached to the name."

But TechCrunch wouldn't have it, according to TechCrunch. "With that, the entire project self destructed. Neither we nor Fusion Garage own the intellectual property of the CrunchPad outright," TechCrunch says. "We jointly own the CrunchPad product intellectual property, and we solely own the CrunchPad trademark.

"So it’s legally impossible for them to simply build and sell the device without our agreement."

As industry analyst/independent blogger Ross Rubin points out, you could argue that at this point, the Apple analogy breaks down. "I can assure you that there is no confusion at Foxconn about who owns the intellectual property behind the iPhone," he says.

And we would argue it breaks down in other places as well.

Rubin also says it's rather surprising that Arrington - originally a lawyer by trade - would have exhibited such un-Jobsian-like behavior.

Arrington says "blue chip angel and venture capitalist investors in Silicon Valley [were] waiting to invest in the [project] since late Spring." Then he says money wasn't all that important. "I never envisioned the CrunchPad as a huge business. I just wanted a tablet computer that I could use to consume the Internet while sitting on a couch. I’ve always pushed to open source all or parts of the project. So this isn’t really about money," he writes.

But he's suing Fusion Garage anyway. Almost certainly. "We will almost certainly be filing multiple lawsuits against Fusion Garage, and possibly Chandra and his shareholders as individuals, shortly. The legal system will work it all out over time."

In related news, The Register has a confession to make: The RegPad™ doesn't exist either.

It does not pack a 12mm NASA-grade titanium shell with an octocore Vulturium™ processor, Shark-o-raptorific V graphics card, 7.2W sealed cold fusion power supply, interplanetary internet node module with wireless connection rates of up to 8 petabytes per millisecond, headphone socket, and slimline biscuit dispenser. It does not run custom Umbongo Linux "Vituperous Vulture" which boots straight into a stripped-down Firestorm browser. And it does not include touch-sensitive controls that let you:

  • Go to El Reg
  • Find quality pornography websites
  • Get me a beer
  • Get me a coffee
  • Order a pizza
  • Make a bacon sarnie
  • Flame someone
  • Abort porn website surfing and return to SFW mode

And, no, we're not offering a RegPad Flex™ with a wafer-thin carbon nanotube casing that can be rolled up like a newspaper or used on uneven surfaces such as corrugated iron roofs.

Sorry, lads. You can always buy a Google Phone. According to TechCrunch. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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