A lovable touchscreen gadget with beanbag mystique called Chumby, very much the precursor to today’s tablets, has long been a relic of simpler times. Now, the San Diego company behind the device, which eventually pivoted to focus entirely on software for televisions and tablets, is also a thing of the past.
CEO Derrick Oien told The Verge that Chumby’s assets, which include widget technology, patents, and the platform, are being shopped around by a corporate trustee. The content and apps platform, however, will stay operational for the immediate future.
When I last spoke with Steve Tomlin, Chumby co-founder and Avalon Ventures partner, things didn’t appear to be so bleak — but that was in July of last year. Then, Tomlin was optimistic about the company’s transition away from hardware to software and its attempt to become a media company monetizing attention through advertising.
“[Chumby] started out as the device, which was good. It’s what we had to do to get to market,” Tomlin told me. “The need for Chumby to do hardware … went away post iPad. The notion of … connected touchscreen-based devices in the home is what we had to invent early on, at a reasonable consumer price point, because they didn’t exist before that. Now they’re everywhere.”
Chumby, he explained at the time, was best positioned as a software and application company with a large library of applications capable of running on all devices.
“It’s either a really bad idea and we just keep kidding ourselves, or it takes the right kind of technology, timing, and consumer interest.”
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