updated 08:35 pm EDT, Thu July 7, 2011
Augen goes down as cheap Android tablets fail
One of the first attempts at seizing on the iPad's popularity has quietly fizzled out as Augen appears to have shut down. The company's US page has been down for a month, and both e-mail as well as warranty returns appear to have gone unanswered. Augen had triggered worry early on when it planned a set of e-readers that would have shipped in April but missed their release without a correction from the company.
The firm was one of the earliest to hop on the tablet bandwagon after seeing Apple's success with the iPad and garnered attention when it put a $150 Android tablet on Kmart shelves in the Gentouch78. Observers quickly attacked it for cutting corners in dubious ways to get to the low price tag, most notably pirating the Google-blessed version of Android 2.1 when it legally would have had to scrap Android Market and other important Google apps.
After its surprise recognition, Augen grew ambitious and planned devices as exotic as Android and Ubuntu hybrids. Speculation is that the company may have overreached by trying to launch six devices at once when even Apple, Motorola, and RIM have been more focused.
Most of the tablet designers in Augen's class are Chinese firms hoping to cater to the lower average incomes in the country, where an iPad is unreachable for most outside of the upper middle class. Few of these companies ever leave China, though some like Maylong are successful enough to get a limited place in US retail shops. [via The Digital Reader]