I haven’t really been following Michael Arrington’s attempt to mass-produce a tablet computer for web browsing. I read the initial announcement and dismissed the project as a pipe dream from yet another blogger who thinks having a lot of readers means you know what you’re talking about. This week Arrington announced that the project had failed.

Arrington’s general dickishness is well-known, but I really don’t understand the thinking on this one. The original point was to “open source the specs so anyone can create them”. The plan was to “hopefully build a few prototypes… If everything works well, we’d then open source the design and software and let anyone build one that wants to.” He now claims that they have prototypes and are ready to get going on mass production, and he’s declared the project dead because another company has decided to build them without him. What’s more, Arrington actually promises lawsuits against the manufacturers:

We will almost certainly be filing multiple lawsuits against Fusion Garage, and possibly Chandra and his shareholders as individuals, shortly.

It seems like Arrington has painted himself into a corner here.

If Arrington does file lawsuits, he’s admitting that he was never serious about the “open source” thing to begin with, and that he was drumming up support for the project under false pretenses. What’s more, he’s throwing his full weight behind restrictive intellectual property law. In other words, “Fuck you, freetards. You shouldn’t ever have trusted me in the first place.”

If Arrington doesn’t file lawsuits, he’s admitting:

  1. that his legal threats are all noise, and that he shouldn’t be taken seriously in the future, and
  2. that he’s such a lousy businessman he didn’t know who actually owned the intellectual property (if any even existed) of the project.

My expectation is that he’ll realize he can’t win in court (which he won’t admit), and that the CrunchPad prototypes were so lousy that there won’t be any money to be won there anyway (which he also won’t admit). The entire debacle is nothing but a huge embarrassment for Arrington, so he’ll quietly drop it and hope all his readers forget it quickly.