CrunchPad Bites the Dust

Michael Arrington’s pet project, the Crunchpad tablet device, will apparently never make it to market, at least under that name.

Techcrunch announced the demise in a sad post today, citing a bizarre series of emails and messages from their manufacturing partner, Fusion Garage.

According to the post,

“Bizarrely, we were being notified that we were no longer involved with the project. Our project [Fusion Garage CEO] Chandra [Rathakrishnan] said that based on pressure from his shareholders he had decided to move forward and sell the device directly through Fusion Garage, without our involvement.”

What? Since when can suppliers expropriate a product for thier own? A year and a half of development, and the device a week away from being launched, and now this? Arrington’s account of the story is confusing, and states that Fusion Garage has not returned calls or emails from Techcrunch. He does mention that the company behind Crunchpad was in talks to acquire Fusion Garage, so clearly there is something afoot. The something afoot is more likely to be lawyer fees and mountains of legal documents that it is to be a usable tablet netsurfing device.

This story will serve as a lesson in what can go wrong to those thinking of joint ventures . As more details emerge, entrepeneurs will do well to study them.

Android 1.6 Gets Google Maps Navigation

Google has announced the rollout of the free Google Maps Navigation feature for Android version 1.6, following the availability a couple weeks ago for Android 2.0. This is the first turn by turn GPS nav app to be totally free, and is making waves in the GPS world; as you can imagine the folks at TomTom and Garmin aren’t too thrilled with this move.

Navigation brings GPS based voice guidance and rerouting for mobile phones running Android, including maps, Google search via text or spoken word, traffic data and street view images. You can now overlay geo based information on your route map like Wikipedia articles about destinations, public transport route lines, and other data.

Devices that run Android 1.6, or Donut, as it is code-named, include the HTC Tattoo, Sony Ercisson Xperia X10, Acer Liquid, T-Mobile myTouch 3G and T-Mobile G1. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these handsets, and live in the U.S., then the beta of the updated Google Maps version can be downloaded from the Android Market and you can start using the new Navigation feature right now. Others will have to wait. Unless you want to go into the modding process discussed in this forum post, where some clever hackers have figured out how to get the service to work outside the U.S., and even on non Android 2.0 phones. It’s fairly involved, though, so use at your own risk of bricking your phone.

KT to Offer iPhone in South Korea

The iPhone is coming to South Korea this month, as carrier KT will start selling the popular device in the country, the company announced today. The South Korean mobile phone market is currently dominated by the home grown favorites Samsung and LG Electronics, with a combined 90 percent market share. South Korea is the latest Asian country to get the iPhone; last month, China Unicom started selling the iPhone in China, albeit a version without WiFi connectivity.

The iPhone 3GS 32GB and 16GB versions will be offered by KT starting Nov. 28, according to the company’s Web site. The 8GB iPhone 3G will also be offered. Apple was granted a license by South Korean regulators last week to operate location-based services in the country. The license had to be cleared by the authorities due to user privacy concerns.

KT will be selling the 32GB iPhone 3GS for 132,000 won, which is about US$114, with service contract. Apple is also reported to also be in talks with a second South Korean carrier, SK Telecom, the country’s largest phone company, for offering the iPhone. Nine out of ten South Koreans already own a mobile phone, so I wonder how much penetration in SK Apple can expect. Also, since there are not that many apps in Korean yet, maybe Apple should instead be in talks for local app developers.

New Security Flaw Hits Internet Explorer 6 & 7

Users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer could be at risk; a newly discovered unpatched vulnerability in versions 6 & 7 of the browser enables hackers to trick users into visiting malware or phishing sites.

According IT security research company VUPEN: “This issue is caused due to a memory corruption error in the Microsoft HTML Viewer (mshtml.dll) when retrieving certain CSS/STYLE objects via the “getElementsByTagName()” method, which could allow attackers to crash an affected browser or execute arbitrary code by tricking a user into visiting a malicious web page.”

Those using the affected software are urged to disable JavaScript, as well as to be wary of visiting untrustworthy looking sites. Of course, you could always just use Firefox instead, but there are still a lot of corporate intranets stuck using IE6 and IE7. Proactive network administrators may opt for upgrading to IE8 if they have the authority, but the corporate IT ship is not the most responsive and takes a long time to come about.

Symantec has tested the older Explorer versions and confirmed the 0-day flaw. They are working on an anti-virus signature to detect the exploit and has created new a IPS signature, HTTP IE Style Heap Spray BO for the exploit.

Spotify Mobile for Symbian Phones Now Available

Windows Mobile and Blackberry phones are now the only mobile phone platforms that can’t use Spotify, as Spotify Mobilehas just announced support for Symbian phones. The world’s most popular streaming music service has been available on Android devices and iPhones up to now. If you are not a Spotify member, you will have to wait for an invite, as that is the only way to get in right now. You need to be a Premium member (£10 per month in the UK) to use Spotify Mobile. Although some innovative carriers are starting to offer pre-paid premium memberships as part of their contract pacakges.

Symbian is the OS for 50 percent of the world’s cell phones, including Nokia. Samsung and Sony-Ericsson handsets. A few of the popular Symbian phones are the Nokia E71, 6220 Classic, 5800 XpressMusic, Sony Ericsson Satio and Samsung GT-I8910 Omnia HD models. A list of supported Symbian devices is here.

Spotify currently is only available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Britain, France and Spain due to copyright issues still being ironed out elsewhere.