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Summary:

Seldom has a company gotten more ink for delivering so little as OQO, a San Francisco start-up that is building an ultra-ultra portable PC that is increasingly becoming pointless. “Our main goal is to reinvent the PC in a pocketable form,” Jory Bell, Oqo co-founder tells […]

oqo2.jpgSeldom has a company gotten more ink for delivering so little as OQO, a San Francisco start-up that is building an ultra-ultra portable PC that is increasingly becoming pointless. “Our main goal is to reinvent the PC in a pocketable form,” Jory Bell, Oqo co-founder tells the New York Times.


htcz.jpgOops, someone already did that! HTC and their Qwerty-keyboard capable Windows Mobile smart phone devices are cheaper and have longer battery life than OQO. Their future models are getting even more powerful. Windows Mobile is slowly overcoming most of its shortcomings and is becoming a stable-and-viable mobile OS option. OQO might have missed their window of utility.

“OQO Delivers World’s First Ultra Mobile PC With Integrated Mobile Broadband Service Powered by Sprint,” their press release screams. Scroll down and you find out a brand new meaning for delivers:

The soon [WHEN] to be released OQO model 02 will be available at http://www.oqo.com/store, through OQO’s enterprise sales team, and through channel partners. To be notified of product availability, please sign up at http://www.oqo.com/.

Between “delivers” and actual “delivery” lies the window of missed opportunity.

  1. Yes. Even MSFT’s TV commercial shows a guy making PPT presentation using Windows Mobile device.

    Now, is Windows Mobile user friendly? – a different ball game :-)

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  2. Om my man! Everyone needs an Oqo! I think they sold 15 or 20 last year and are poised to achieve critical mass with 2-4 sales a month in 2007.

    That Jory Ball is a winner man! Look at how engaged he is in the NYT photo. Looks like he LOVES selling the Oqo!

    As the VC you trust, I say OQO is HOT!

    Baby! We need to get lunch, I aint seen you since Potrero Brewery!

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  3. “Our main goal is to reinvent the PC in a pocketable form,” Jory Bell, Oqo co-founder tells the New York Times.

    I have never used OQO. However I have used a HTC smartphone for a few months now. So far I am fairly disappointed in Windows Mobile’s. I think the “reinvent (shrink) the PC in a pocketable form” goal is indeed a wrong direction. I strongly believe a good mobile UI should be designed from the ground up rather than as a miniature of the desktop version.

    Windows Mobile do a fairly decent job to migrate the Windows look and feel and interaction to a small device. My phone comes with familiar applications like Words Mobile, Excel Mobile and even the Solitaire! It also carry over many troubles you typically find from a PC. Many installation/uninstallation of apps. Many selection and dialog boxes to click through. Many issues you want to google to look for solution or workaround. Only now it frustrate you more because on a mobile device the resource to combat these issues is more limited. I definitely rather not deal with issues in the first place.

    Before the HTC I had a Danger Hiptop. Despite its simplicity, it was a lot more usable. I regularly flip it open to take quick notes. It was a breeze to synchronized to the PC for further editing or follow up. With Windows Mobile it takes a lot more clicks and selections to do simple things like note taking. I see it as big desktop syndrome. ActiveSync is hard to setup and a major source of problem. If the T-mobile network is not so spotty I would definitely go back to Hiptop.

    Good luck for OQO. Between ultralight weight notebook and smartphone I don’t know if there are any job that it does so well that make it worthy.

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  4. Bravo for pointing this out, Om. Although UMPCs are damn sexay, the limitations of the format (high price, poor battery life) hurt it.

    However, Windows Mobile devices still have a long way to go. I’ve owned nearly a dozen (since Windows CE was launched many many years ago) and my list of gripes knows no end, despite my love of them. UMPCs have USB ports, so you can connect external storage or input devices. They have a much higher resolution so you actually have a hope in hell of seeing an entire page of text on a single screen. The available software base is both broad and deep.

    WMPC’s on the other hand are supported by talented, yet amateur, programmers all trying to capitalize on a niche that mostly uses the devices as affordable portable media devices and alternatives to the PSP. There is no standard interface across manufacturers or within manufacturers.

    HTC is onto something good, particularly with their Athena.

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  5. I love my subnotebook FS Lifebook P1520, it is a little bigger then OQO, but I use it as a main PC.

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  6. The OQO makes as much sense to me as desktop replacement laptops. It is a desktop replacement palmtop. Maybe there’s still no market for it, but the dock is the point.

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  7. A voice of wisdom calling out from the wilderness.

    The OQO was a dud from the get-go. The first unit was horrible (that couldn’t hold its own against the Sony U70 import), the second an advancement in disappointment (that couldn’t hold its own against the Sony UX series), and this new unit represents a great leap toward assured mediocrity (having been outpaced by Asus of all companies, and, in terms of power and sexiness, HTC as well.)

    Sigh.

    At this point, the UMPC is pointless. If you want something with the same minitablet functionality, why not buy a Pocket PC?

    http://www.mobileplanet.com/b.aspx?i=124684

    If you want something that is actually useful to type on, why not move up in size 2 inches and buy a subnote like the Panasonic R5:

    http://www.kemplar.com/panasonic_r5.php

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  8. I had an OQO and I put it up on ebay a week after I got it, enough said!

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  9. This is the most sane comments thread I’ve read in a while :) Kudos to Continental Op for recommending the Panasonic notebook, those things kick butt and just keep going

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  10. I’m going to have to be the lone voice standing up for the OQO!

    The appeal is, or is meant to be, being able to run conventional Windows applications on a device that is much smaller than a laptop, that is, will actually fit a large size pocket.

    Now, I’ve never actually used an OQO and in fact have an HP iPAQ phone with Windows Mobile 5.

    I simply loathe Windows Mobile 5, and think it was a dark day that a true palmtop OS innovator like Palm lost the plot and failed to evolve the Palm OS, but I put up with Windows Mobile because it runs a few programs that are only available on the platform.

    However, if I could have a fullblown XP or Vista device sitting in my pocket, I’d prefer to have it plus a better phone (that doesn’t frickin’ crash on me). I could then run conventional, full featured programs, rather than the watered down Windows Mobile variants. Plus I’d have a phone that didn’t suffer the limitations of having to run a Win32 API.

    By the way, is it only OQO you’re singling out, or the whole form factor? Sony has an OQO-like Vaio coming out –
    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/01/08/sonyflashumpc/
    which I’m mighty tempted by when it arrives.

    My perspective is summed up by this: Windows Mobile will never run Photoshop. An OQO does.

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