The CEO of Fusion Garage, the maker of the joojoo, has posted rash of blog entries and had other private media meetings this week. I’ve felt for a while that we were in the calm before a new product announcement storm, and sure enough, it is now confirmed with an almost brisk breeze: the joojoo 2 will be out in early 2011.

Two questions: What does this mean for us joojoo 1 owners and how is the joojoo 2 positioned to take the marketplace by storm?

joojoo 1

According to the Gizmodo article they will “continue to support” the current model. Unless a tech company expounds on how they love their users and how they are working now to release some wonderful new things then “continue to support” is industry code for “we’re moving on and not looking back”. I’m confident there will never be another software patch for the joojoo, and there is plenty of evidence for this.

  • They have fulfilled every promised functionality in their latest patch, albeit a minimal and somewhat buggy implementation of USB playback.
  • There has been no tweets, blog entries, or forum posts that say anything like “we’ll have that fixed in the next patch”, whereas that used to happen frequently.
  • In their blog they say there will be a new site design in the next couple of months, which coincides with their new product release. Whenever there is a full site re-design around a new product line the old one is demoted or dropped  from the site.
  • They are even going to purge the entire help forum, supposedly as part of a customer service reboot, but it will remove lots of joojoo 1 content and history from their site.
  • They also announced they will (finally) be releasing at least all the GPL code, which is often part of jettisoning a dead product.

“Support” will mean they will honor the “free from manufacturer defect” warranty and thats about it.

joojoo 2

The joojoo 2 is going to be based on Android, but will have a new integration component for all contact and social networking. Neat idea, but this plan and market positioning is doomed to failure in multiple ways.

  • The first is Android itself. It is a commodity. I can name 13 Android tablets off the top of my head.
  • They haven’t proven they can compete on price, just look at the flood of low end 7″ and 8.5″ tablets on ebay. $500 for their first product was laughed at back in the winter and spring (but looking at the newly released prices from other vendors the joojoo doesn’t seem so outrageous these days). I doubt with their volumes they will be able to have anything but razor thin margins and the price will still be the same or higher than big name competitors.
  • They’ve not been able to compete on hardware quality. I and others have pointed out design and build issues, and although it compares OK to cheap netbooks it is laughed at compared to the iPad. New products from HP, Asus, Samsung, ExoPC, Notion Ink, etc. will all likely be superior builds.
  • They’ve fallen down horribly at doing their own software. The original joojoo was billed as being a completely unique OS, but now that the community has seen inside it is clearly just a simple skinning via Compiz (not completely fair, but thats how it looks from the outside). How do they think they can differentiate their own flavor of Android when some of the other players (Samsung, Motorola, Sony, possibly Asus) are doing a great job adding their own UI layers and other great customizations.
  • They probably won’t have access to the official Google marketplace. With the first wave of cheap Chinese tablets, blogger early adopters learned that not having access to a real marketplace was a killer, and they told the world. That message is going to be reinforced when Verizon starts pushing their own marketplace in future Driod tablet TV adds. Nobody is going to touch a tablet without a robust marketplace.
  • Trying to ride the social network integration wave is a herculean task that will end in entertaining disaster. Facebook and Google will go after them for misuse of their TOC, or they will intentionally change access rights to screw over the little guy. Look what Facebook did to Apple with the social integration into iTunes, and thats just the high profile case that some people have heard of. There’s a reason nobody has gotten social integration down right – each big player wants to own it and can’t stand by and let any other company own it first. They will actively kill anyone who tries to get in their way of dominating this space, including little upstarts.
  • Its too late to sell directly to telcos. Most have already signed agreements with the big names leaving no room for an unknown, so Fusion Farage will have to sell directly to consumers.
  • Fusion Garage is a relatively unknown company, which isn’t so bad, until you do a Google search. The main search results show a substantial lawsuit, poor sales, mediocre product reviews, and tons of posts bashing them in light of the iPad hysteria during its product launch. They may be white washing their site but they can’t scrub the interwebitubes.

At the end of a post like this I try to point to the silver lining and look forward to the positive aspects of the big picture. There is none here. Fusion Garage is screwed.