Does anyone remember the excitement about the HTC Shift that resulted in a series of total showstoppers that caused it to fade quickly from public view? Battery life, screen resolution and (slow) operating system were my personal deal-breakers and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from 3 years of product blogging it’s that people are very quick to get excited about a product en masse but when it comes to the crunch, there’s often a show stopper that kills interest, en masse.
The Crunchpad has been at number 1 in the UMPCPortal charts for about a month now and because we’re not particularly highly ranked for Crunchpad search terms it indicates that there’s rather a lot of traffic out there for it. In fact if you look at Google Trends you see that searches for Crunchpad are in the same ballpark as for the terms ‘UMPC’ and the popular UMPC brand ‘Viliv.’
The Crunchpad is clearly getting a good number of eyes and if it’s well executed it should sell well but the lessons of the HTC Shift have to be remembered. Battery life and operating system are the two main issues here.
Two years ago we wanted a 3hr minimum battery life on our portable devices. Now, that expectation is up to 5hrs which is going to be a tough call. It is possible with a well engineered Menlow-based design (probably not with a typical netbook-platform design) but then there’s the issue of software. Creating an end-user Linux build is extremely hard work. Whatever OS is chosen though, if Firefox takes more than 7 seconds to open and page loads average more than 10 seconds, its ‘slow.’ The3GS is in the 10-15 second range for average page load times now so there’s no excuse for slow page loads.
Finally there’s the price. Mike Arrington, the owner of the company has set a lot of expectations down at the $200-$300 level so if he misses that target by much he’s lost a lot of momentum. With well-built 8.9” 1KG Asus 900’s going for under $200 there’s a lot of competition.
I would love to see the Crunchpad succeed and for thousands of people to have a portable touch-based web solution available but I worry about the lessons we all learned from the HTC Shift.