TechCrunch taking on the Amazon Kindle?
Tech blogging powerhouse TechCrunch made the claim that it could build a $200 tablet computer back in July. Yesterday they posted photos of an ugly prototype with the dream of this being a browser-only WiFi computer. This sounds like a cheaper Kindle with less functionality and free only content. I'm not sure why a news organization thinks it can build a better computer than the folks that invest millions of dollars in R&D, but this smacks of many previous single function devices that failed. Amazon invested a ton of time and money in the Kindle. ASUS devoted years of servitude to the world PC market before creating the affordable EEE PC line. At best the TechCrunch exercise looks like a project meant for hobbyists with time on their hands.
Is this history repeating itself? Not sure if anyone remembers the iOpener? A machine designed to surf the Web and check email from the early 2000s. It wasn't a tablet, but the idea was a bust because it tried to do too little with too much. They had a great color LCD screen making them attractive toys for hackers who converted them for running Linux or Windows XP en masse. A $200 browser only device seems headed for a similar fate. The best thing that happened to the iOpener was the Baobab Health Partnership (baobabhealth.org is currently down which is why I'm linking to the Google cache). Baobab got hundreds of the iOpeners and put Linux on them to use in hospitals in Africa to help facilitate improved healthcare in places that desperately need it. At best, a similar philanthropic effort seems the best possible destiny of hardware designed by people who should stick to writing about software.