The one good thing to come out of the Crunchpad was to ignite a market that had lain dormant for the last couple of years. That is the idea of a slate computer, and looking at what is happening all over the news about CES, manufacturers are foaming at the mouth to get their pretty new slate form factor e-reader or general purpose computer to market, and all it really took was the idea of the crunchpad.
While it is sadly tragic that the crunchpad ended the way it did, as a sheer idea generating device, its impact will go far beyond the legal and business issues that have cropped up. My belief is that without the crunchpad as an open idea for anyone to take a look at, Michael Arrington might have started the new stampede to the gate for slate form factor computers.
Of course the Kindle helped, but it was limited, not a general purpose computer, locked into one system with one form of DRM. Since then Barnes and Nobel has come out with their own equally limited ebook reader, along with Sony, and from what we are seeing out of CES, a treasure trove of devices that are locked to one system, one set of DRM, and will not be cross compatible.
This is why the idea of the crunchpad was so compelling – it was a little of everything without limitations and the ability to be expanded. Hackers would have figured out how to break into that puppy and extend it in less than a day. I honestly don’t think that Techcrunch would have been all that upset about that either as long as the consumers were able to do with the system what they wanted to do with it. We are seeing glimmers of hope with the rumored and hopefully true ISlate/ITouch/I Something from Apple that may be announced on January 27 2010.
The idea of having a color, extensible, and hackable slate system makes sense now. The IPhone and Ipod touch showed millions of consumers how cool something like this could be. The original slate systems were bulky, harder to use, and no idea of touch. The technology used in the Apple systems made sense and made it easy for everyone to use. With what we are seeing out of CES, it seems that the idea has caught on in ways that didn’t catch on back in 2001, 2002 with the tablet computer. And this is where the influence of the Crunchpad is going to be felt.
Sometimes all it takes is one vision that is widely discussed and widely anticipated to change an industry. If anything, we might end up owing Michael Arrington the credit for the idea, even if the end product ended up being vapor ware for all intents and purposes.
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(Cross-posted @ TechWag)