New York – Tablet startup
Fusion Garage of Singapore is going back to the drawing board to develop a
second-generation platform that will come to market in the first half of next
year in a variety of color touchscreens in sizes up to 12.1 inches, all with Wi-Fi
and 3G cellular data.
The company will use the
Android OS kernel and select Android drivers to build what Fusion founder and
CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan said would “lead to the birth of a new operating
system.” The OS would have its own APIs
and deliver enhancements — including improved multitasking — unavailable on
current Android-based phones and tablets, the iPhone and iPad, and Windows
Phone 7 devices.
Current tablets and
smartphones, Rathakrishnan noted, multitask in much the same way as Windows
PCs, minimizing one application while maximizing, and that’s after a user hits
the device’s home-screen button. Fusion’s new OS, on the other hand, will
deliver multitasking “in a way to help the flow of activities” and enable users
“to work with both apps simultaneously.”
The new OS will also take a key feature of the
Kindle and Nook e-readers, which enable users to resume reading a book on one
device at the point where they left off on another — and extend it to all apps,
functions and features, including web browsing, video playback and music
playback, Rathakrishnan said. “The state of the application will be preserved
from one [Fusion Garage] device to the other” as well as to PCs and Macs, he
The new devices will replace
the company’s current Joojoo tablet, available to end users through
. They’ll also differ markedly from the current
models in several ways. The current model, for example, lacks onboard apps and
memory storage and uses a proprietary Linux-based OS that relies on Internet
connections to access cloud-based apps and services via on-screen icons. The
cloud-based apps and services include Pandora, Google Documents, Hulu, YouTube,
Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, AOL Music, Last.fm, the IMBD database, Gmail, Hotmail,
LinkedIn, and web portals with Adobe Flash support.
“After the iPad launch, we
realized our vision [for Joojoo] was premature and that we needed a hybrid
approach that also addressed our shortcomings.”
He also called the March 2010 launch of the
original Joojoo tablet “premature” because the company’s Linux-based OS proved
to be unstable, although a software update later became available, he said.
The new Fusion devices will
not use the Joojoo name, he noted.
Other features of the new
devices will include video chat over Wi-Fi and 3G, an e-reader app, and possibly
hard keyboards, but Rathakrishnan declined to say if any of the devices would
include circuit-switched cellular voice calling.
The new models will also
download Android-based apps from a proprietary app store. The apps could
include Android apps already available on the Android Marketplace and ported
without changes to the Fusion store. Developers could also optimize their Android
Marketplace apps for use on larger screen Fusion devices, he said.
Development of the new
devices is underway now that the company is closing on its third round of
funding, bringing total invested capital to $10 million. The company is will
expand to 60 employees by the end of the year, from 14.
The capital investments exclude
capital provided by Malaysian-based cellphone maker CSL Group, which pays for
the manufacturing costs of Fusion devices in return for royalties on the sale
of each device.
Fusion said it is already in
discussions with U.S.
retailers and carriers to carry the new devices.
Rathakrishnan envisions smartphones
and tablet coexisting, with smartphones positioned as delivering “convenient
access to anything” and tablets intended for extended use mainly to consume
media and communicate but secondarily for using productivity applications, such
as writing school papers, when docked with a keyboard.
“The iPad has shown the use
case,” he exclaimed. “Consumers’ main digital device at home and on the go will
be the tablet.” At home and work, laptops and PCs will be the main productivity
device, he noted.