Customers of California-based hardware dealer Augen have been reporting that the company is effectively dead, with no responses to emails regarding warranty claims and reports of equipment not being returned after being sent for repair.
To add credence to the reports, the company website is offline and has been since May, according to many following cheap Android tablets and e-readers. The company was best known for offering an Android tablet via K-Mart stores last year with the full Google Experience before being pulled due to a massive 80% return rate after initial purchase caused by the poor hardware.
It later was revealed that Augen was pirating the Google Experience, which is a suite of closed-source applications offered by Google. The Google Experience includes Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, and YouTube. Those apps are not part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Augen was forced to offer an update for devices, which as a main “feature” wound up deleting the Google Experience from these devices, post-sale. Augen offered no compensation to users for the lost functionality, and still stands potentially liable in the form of a class-action lawsuit for damaging customers.
Augen indicated that they had worked out a deal with Google in the wake of the aforementioned incident, something Google would not confirm to PhoneNews.com when asked. It is not known if that was simply a repudiation of the deal, Google routinely ignores questions submitted by PhoneNews.com to the company, as well as most requests for comment on Android.
The company also offered other Android-based hardware such as a netbook and was in the process of launching 6 new devices earlier this year with a presence at trade shows, before its sudden, albeit unsurprising demise. Augen in its final form was revealed to be little more than a Chinese knockoff Android device importer, with good marketing, and a Kmart distribution deal… with a little illegal piracy of software added in for flare.