DOA: Vaporware CrunchPad goes up in smoke

Despite winning a Popular Mechanics award for being one of the “most brilliant” products of 2009 sight-unseen, the mythical CrunchPad TechCrunch tablet has dissolved into a cloud of ill-will and bitchy sniping, much to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Many techy types were skeptical about the hype surrounding the never-existing project- earlier this month, Wired questioned whether the CrunchPad was “still alive.” Vocal through the summer before abruptly shutting up about the CrunchPad, Michael Arrington declined comment on the piece, but up until today did not indicate the the ambitious tablet was in any jeopardy- despite an ever increasing hypothetical price tag, lack of actual product, and looming Apple tablet on the horizon (possibly killing any interest in the CrunchPad to begin with.)

Details behind the implosion aren’t immediately clear- it’s claimed that FusionGarage conveniently booted Arrington/TechCrunch from the project with no warning:

Bizarrely, we were being notified that we were no longer involved with the project. Our project. [partner and Fusion Garage CEO, Chandra Rathakrishnan] 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.

Err, what? This is the equivalent of Foxconn, who build the iPhone, notifiying Apple a couple of days before launch that they’d be moving ahead and selling the iPhone directly without any involvement from Apple.

But reading the recounting of the events leading up to the death of the project feels incomplete- was it a few days before launch? Are there millions of orphaned CrunchPads sitting in warehouses waiting to be distributed? Or is this just a case of maybe bloggers should stick to blogging and let manufacturers manufacture? Fusion Garage has yet to weigh in on Arrington’s accusations, and a technology consultant spoke to MSNBC about the likelihood that the CrunchPad ever would have seen the light of day:

“The device was actually very interesting, though it was trending to be much too expensive for anyone but an Apple-class vender to sell. Given they set expectations for initial price so low and then were unable to build a device that would meet those expectations I doubt the device would have been very successful.”