Audacious TechCrunch Tablet Project

TechCrunch -- that's right the blog -- has decided to build a WiFi-enabled, touch-screen, open-source Internet tablet, aiming for a price of $200.

TechCrunch tablet

Image credit: TechCrunch

If they can build a product at that price it may actually come into being as a mass-market device (PC makers fear such devices). I've written again and again about a scenario in which we carry a "phone phone" that does voice very well and a larger screen device for mobile Internet browsing. This TechCrunch initiative further convinces me that that scenario will come to pass -- it's only a matter of time.

The real question is not the hardware but the connectivity issue: will there be enough coverage to drive such a product to mass-market status? If, for example, Clearwire/Xohm takes off and/or LTE takes flight and is available to the public at reasonable rates, these sorts of devices will proliferate. Kindle is the early model.

As TechCrunch points out, the form factor is somewhere between the current iPhone and a laptop. The next-generation OLPC is another such device. I'd love to see TechCrunch succeed in this intiative, especially at the desired price-point.