Ina Fried

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Tablet Maker Fusion Garage Goes Off the Grid

The future of Fusion Garage — the firm behind the JooJoo and Grid 10 tablets — is in question, as its Web site has faltered, and onetime partners say the firm has become uncommunicative.

The Fusion Garage Web site was largely offline part of the weekend, but was operational again as of Sunday night. However, attempts to order the Grid 10 tablet were met with a message that states the company is “running out of stock”; orders were prevented from being placed.

PR firm McGrath/Power, which represented the company during its launch of the Grid 10 earlier this year, said it has dropped Fusion Garage as a partner.

“As of today, we are no longer representing the company,” McGrath/Power CEO Jonathan Bloom said in an email on Sunday. Bloom said that Fusion Garage did ship some Grid 10 products to the United States. It also took orders for Europe, Bloom said, but to his knowledge, no units have been shipped there.

Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan did not return an email seeking comment.

When he last heard from the company, Bloom said, it was working on language localizations for the Grid 10, though he said his firm hasn’t had a discussion regarding strategy with Fusion Garage for at least a month. The PR firm has been forwarding the company emails and social media comments from its customers.

With the Grid 10, Fusion Garage was promising an Android tablet with a very different, custom-designed interface. The company had also said it would bring out an unlocked phone, dubbed the Grid 4.

But it’s been a bumpy ride. The Grid 10 launch was preceded by a PR stunt, suggesting a new player in the tablet market, called TabCo. However, the day that Fusion Garage revealed itself as the company behind TabCo was the same day Google announced its blockbuster deal to acquire Motorola Mobility.

Less than a month later, Fusion Garage slashed the price of its tablet. The company also promised a free Grid 10 to early buyers of the JooJoo — the company’s first tablet.

AllThingsD colleague Walt Mossberg reviewed the Grid 10 in October, calling it a mixed bag that offered some clever ideas but had glitches and was quite rough around the edges.

Fusion Garage also had challenges with the JooJoo. At first, the company was partnered with TechCrunch on a tablet. That partnership fell apart, with TechCrunch claiming fraud. The tablet quickly faded amid the release of Apple’s iPad.

The company remains in a legal dispute with TechCrunch and parent company AOL over that project, with former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington noting on Sunday that Fusion Garage’s law firm has sought to cease representing the company, amid unpaid bills and a lack of communication.

Problems with the Web site and Fusion Garage’s dismissal by McGrath/Power were reported earlier by The Verge.


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