Firefox Tablet — I would like one too

If you read through the various comments and blog posts about it, Mike Arrington’s proposal to crowd-source the development of a $200 Web tablet with a touch screen — in effect, an iPod Touch with a larger screen and a solid-state hard drive — is nothing short of total lunacy. Dozens of people have said that it will never work, that it can’t be done for that kind of price point, that Apple is likely already working on one, etc. All of which is probably true. That said, however, I can understand Mike’s frustration; I’ve been waiting for that kind of tablet ever since I saw them using one on Star Trek. Put me down for one 🙂

11 thoughts on “Firefox Tablet — I would like one too

  1. It's a ridiculous post. It's a totally unrealistic price-point and goal, especially with the described feature set. To get it to a $200 retail price (assuming it's not just a BOM cost for the device, which I don't think it is), the number of sacrifices that would need to be made would make the device unusable for the intended audience. I'd be surprised if a quality, moderately high pixel density touch LCD screen (maybe at 800×600) wasn't north of $50, alone eating a quarter of your BOM cost. A battery capable of powering a bright large screen too for any extended period of time is not cheap either.

    Also, IMHO, crowd sourcing this kind of device is a terrible idea unless you have a true benevolent dictator who's wiling to make the really hard choices. There are just too many interests at play. While it's do-able, you end up with something like linux or openmoko. Now I love linux, but it suffers from the many cooks in the kitchen syndrome that's just not tennable in a true consumer device. Just reading through the comments you see everyone chiming in with their needs, bluetooth to access external keyboards, video cameras, more USB ports etc… I can't imagine a single simple *cheap* device satisfying the diverse set of needs of this crowd.

    Having said all that, I am curious if this actually goes anywhere. My prediction is that if anything does come of it, realistically it will be in the $500 ballpark. I doubt when presented with the sacrifices needed to bring the cost down if they'd be willing to make them.

    • I have no doubt that you are right on almost all those points, Mike —
      but even if it comes out closer to $500, I think it would sell pretty
      well. And I would disagree on the Linux point. I switched to Ubuntu
      from Windows a year ago and have had very few problems at all — I
      think a device that mostly used a Web browser would have no difficulty
      doing whatever it needed to.

      • re: linux, I'm not saying it's impossible, but like ubuntu, you need some kind of benevolent dictator willing to make sacrifices to make it more friendly. Otherwise you get too many install options, customizations, and specific interests reflected in the finished product making it unusable for people not deeply involved with the technology/philosophy.

  2. “That said, however, I can understand Mike’s frustration; I’ve been waiting for that kind of tablet ever since I saw them using one on Star Trek. Put me down for one :-)”

    Why? What need would this device fill? Where when you use it, and when? No keyboard, limited caching, no AIR or Silverlight, or Flash…why do you _need_ this device?

    • Shelley, no one — least of all me — actually *needs* this device.
      That said, however, I sure would like one 🙂 I'd like to use it at
      home, instead of carting around a bulky laptop. I often want to check
      the Web or look at email during commercials or something like that,
      and this tablet would be perfect.

      • I'm not adverse to innovation, and lord knows I like my specialty boxes like the Roku. At the same time, though, we have to look at the environment every time a new plastic “must have” comes along. Something like an iPhone has the capability you mention, but it's also a phone, which means it serves a specific purpose. You couldn't do real work with this device, it's going to be hot to the touch (because it won't be big enough to have much of a fan system), and it will most likely burn out within a year. You'd then have to buy another as you “throw” this one away, because it's too integrated and cheap to fix.

        You really couldn't answer email because there is no keyboard, other than what gets overlayed on the device. You couldn't do work with the device, and like I said, most web-based applications wouldn't work with it, because it doesn't have enough to power the apps.

        If people can afford to spend money on a limited use device, more power to them. But this device has a carbon footprint. Anytime we see a device with a carbon footprint, we should ask ourselves, do we really need it, or does it just touch our “cool” and is cheap, so what the heck?

        It would be nice if we could indulge our need for cool without being destructive on the environment, not to mention using dwindling resources like oil.

  3. Assuming I've got it right about what you want, it will become available. You're just going to have to wait something like five, maybe seven years. Effectively, the guts of the machine exists in the form of an e-reader. The missing component is a decent colour screen that doesn't double up a heater.

    E-ink or polymer based screens are coming but it's going to take time. Polymer Vision reckons it will have some form of colour in a couple of years but this is not true colour: it's like the old days of print with spot colour. True colour arrives sometime after that.

    The rest of the machine exists: it just happens to be inside a Kindle. It's the screen technology that makes all the difference. The problem with Mike Arrington's concept is that he is trying to define a product that has a market distinct to that of the e-reader. Given that the e-reader is still is a nascent business, I can't see that working.

  4. i would deffinitley buy one of these. im so sick and tired of over priced laptops with all this stuff i dont need. can someone give me a link to contact these guys and get one or a link where i can buy one?
    email-joshweaver20@comcast.net
    please contact about this product if you have info. thanks.

  5. i would deffinitley buy one of these. im so sick and tired of over priced laptops with all this stuff i dont need. can someone give me a link to contact these guys and get one or a link where i can buy one?
    email-joshweaver20@comcast.net
    please contact about this product if you have info. thanks.

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