I Guess Everyone Drinks Kool-Aid Nowadays

I’ve got a problem and it’s with my former employer Michael Arrington. It’s not a personal problem at all, it’s just that he’s not making sense when it comes to his little Firefox Tablet he’s trying to build. Oh, and be warned – the page is bogged down by a gazillion comments, which brings me to my main point:

Michael Arrington owns a blog network, not a hardware distribution company. I have no doubt in my mind that the man is gifted enough to create a piece of a hardware that’s related to the Internet somehow. My main issue is that TechCrunch thinks its little Firefox Tablet can be manufactured for around $200. Wait a second, did I say $200? Oh right, that’s what was originally said and then changed to $300 later on. So already the price dispute is becoming bullshit.

If the price for the tablet exceeds $400, it’s a pointless effort. You can scoop up an Eee PC, Dell E Mini or iPhone for cheaper and they’ll all do a lot more than just browse Firefox. I know you love web apps Michael, but take a breather for a second and think about all of this.

You claim you want a touchscreen and a built-in webcam all for ~$300? Ridiculous. I assume you’re trying to profit off this – after all, why else would you even go for it? After browsing around, I found 12-inch touchscreens online for around $300. I realize that buying in bulk could lower that, but you’re forgetting the guts of this thing: CPU, RAM, and your 4GB SSD you requested. Bro, for $300, you are not getting this. I don’t care if you go as open-source as possible. There is just no way in hell TechCrunch is going to produce a touchscreen Internet browser to run web applications for $200 $300.

The specs he’s asking for, specifically, are:

Here?s the basic idea: The machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe one USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive. Data input is primarily through an iPhone-like touch screen keyboard. It runs on linux and Firefox. It would be great to have it be built entirely on open source hardware, but including Skype for VOIP and video calls may be a nice touch, too.

Don’t forget the competition from existing Internet tablets like the Nokia N800, Michael.x

Finally, you ask your readers for help in building it. When your product is finished and goes to market, how will these people be fairly compensated for their work? That’s what I really want to know. I could go on and on for hours about this but I think I’ve summed up the flaws in Arrington’s idea quite nicely. Hey, if he succeeds in pulling it all off and shoving it in my face, more power to him. I’d buy a $200 Firefox Tablet.

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  1. Hey Vince,

    I wouldn’t discard this idea so easily. I don’t know Michael, but I happen to have some experience in embedded consumre electronics design AND volume manufacturing (>8K units).

    Did you know that you can get ARM9 processors for less than 10$, 7″ TFT screens go for less than 50$ when you buy bulk (>1k units), flash is just <20$ for 2G (which should be enough for an embedded OS and 10$ for a touchscreen in volume.

    Anyway, my experience tells me that it can be done for that price, but I don’t know if Michael is the right guy to pull it off, as said I don’t know him. Anyway, good luck with you blog, just my two cents.

    BR, Hans

  2. Hans,

    Great counterpoint. Very well put. Remember though, Arrington is looking for a TOUCH screen, which has gotta jack up the price of that TFT display.

    Plus, check this out: http://www.gearfuse.com/hey-michael-arrington-heres-your-firefox-tablet/ – Only $130 and pretty damn close, sans webcam and 3GB of included storage space.

    We’ll see how this plays out. Again, great constructive criticism.

  3. See you all in 2 years, when this device doesn’t exist because these guys can’t make it.

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