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Update: My report on Microsoft Origami just went up. Here is just a tiny sample.“This is yet another failed attempt to jam everything into one device,” says Pip Coburn, technology strategist with Coburn Ventures, a New York-based investment advisory firm. “The way I see it, they don’t really know what they want it to be.” Full Story is here.

So finally Microsoft Origami (or what it would be) has been brought to light…. and my first reaction, for crying out loud, yet another digital device?

It is supposed to be the Swiss army knife of digital life, if you believe what you see in Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble’s video. If you read Michael Gartenberg hands on review, you will soon be running off to the nearest store wildly waving your credit card yelling take my money, and give me Origami.

What none of the folks who are writing about the device today address is the bigger issue: since it is an ultra portable PC based on Windows XP, how secure is it? What is the “re-boot” time? How much resources it would need and how long is the battery life. Of course the price point is even more worrisome: at $599 to $999, it is still too expensive for an occasional use device. So here is a question: will equipment makers sacrifice the margins on their thin-and-light notebooks, for Origami? After all, from the video you learn, that Origami does it all, and well, a $600 desktop at home should do the trick in tandem with Origami.

Origami, from what ever I have read, seems will be made by partners, so pretty sure, design innovation and services integration will be sub-par, much like most Microsoft Windows Media-based music players. Engadget has some photos, and from the looks of it, the device is not as sleek as it seems. It looks thick and unwieldy. I am feeling a tad underwhelmed by the ones I see (pics, I admit) online.

My view on any new digital and mobile device is that – both Microsoft and Intel – should stop thinking Windows and try developing a new platform. In other words, think different. Look even Steve “OS-X or nothing” Jobs had to go get another OS platform to get the iPod done. Imagine, the mess a OS-X Inside iPod would be. Microsoft has a product precedent – XBox 360, which does things very well, because it is not hampered by the Windows legacy. New thinking … but then that’s too much to ask from old companies.

PS: Does anyone else feel that Sony, the great consumer electronics company of the past, muffed an opportunity with PSP by not including a hard drive? I love the device, hate the lack of capacity!

26 Responses to “Un-Origami”

  1. Merchantprince

    The last two weeks, both the behavior of the tech blogs and the producers of technology products, have been very interesting indeed. I would argue that it is evidence of the birth of American Otaku. I could go on bit you can check out my most recent journal entry at I think we will have a lot of fun times ahead as the electronincs producers attempt to sate the demands of the otaku.

  2. Let me know when Microsoft manages to produce something that puts the user experience first. I don’t see anything in Origami that suggests that they’ve found a clue about making devices that people want. It runs Windows XP. Well isn’t that a great use of computing resources? Maybe it’ll have a fan attached and come with 1 Gb of memory. I can just see it now — a row of subway denizens all huddled over clicking and cursing as their Origamis bluescreen. That’s as much progress as three different trucks coming to pick up your trash!

  3. Toy Man

    This is exactly the type/size of device I have been looking for. I expect to be an early purchaser. The size/power/capabilities are perfect for my requirements. YMMV

  4. I thought Gartenberg’s review was extremely biased. He addressed none of the real issues that Om is talking about. I can understand Scoble’s enthusiasm but the Jup analyst could have done a more thorough job. Om, will it be possible to post a comparison between UMPC, 770, PSP and iPod video.

  5. Marcus

    I think you are completely missing the point of this device, it isn’t supposed to be an iPod killer or anything of the sort. This looks a lot like the next gen of LS800 (from motion computing) or other ultra light tablets and is supposed to replace your laptop.
    Most people who travel extensively and have to carry their laptop suffer because it is bulky and heavy. This will let them do everything they do with their laptop be considerably more portable and cheaper than ultra light laptops…
    I agree battery life is still a bit low and the current design looks horrible but I’d still buy one when it hits the market, if only to alleviate my back aches for a reasonable price.

  6. Since I think Origami was pushed out 9-12 months too early – technology not ready or cheap enough, UI not ready – I was surprised by Gartenberg’s response to Origami, because he’s usually much more circumspect about MS and right on about lots of stuff. Hey, he was even positive about Apple’s “medium-scale” event because of Front Row with Bonjour including video. It makes me think I’m missing something about Origami. But what is it that I’m missing?

  7. Frank Daley

    The Nokia 770 has already hit the sweet spot for such devices.

    It’s at the right price point < $400.

    It’s light.

    It’s already shipping and selling way beyond Nokia’s projections.

    By the time Microsoft partners start selling Origami things, Nokia will already be out with an updated 770.

  8. kaveh,

    I give MS lots of credit for innovating and trying, but they keep messing it up by doing half the job. They did this with Tablet PCs and Portable Media Centers, and they’ve done it again. They seem to not understand the market and the mainstream users’ use cases.

    There is a huge gap between pocketable and mobile. If the device is pocketable (cell, pdas, mp3 players), people accept limited but well-done functions, want at least 10 hours of battery life, and costs $400-500 or less. If it is mobile, people will compare it against laptops, where you get full functionality, about 4 hours of battery life, and costs $600 and up. The laptop market is much smaller than pocketable. Too big to be pocketable, UMPCs will be compared against laptops, and the differences today are just not dramatic. But MS seems happy to push this product out today with 2-3 hr battery life and closer to $1000 cost.

    If MS had a good grip of market needs and wants, it might’ve chose to wait for tech to be ready or cheaper, so that it could use Core Solo, Windows Vista, low-power 802.11n, 1″ hard drives or NAND flash, etc. Then it might’ve had a blockbuster product on introduction when compared to laptops or pocketables. Instead today, people are shrugging and saying wait for v2 or v3. Certainly, no one can conceive of how this “changes your life”. So it just looks like technology for technology’s sake, and only the gadget geeks buy that.

    I wonder if someone could dig out the story of why Dell, HP, Gateway, Fujitsu, Acer, etc, are not even involved.

  9. me reads this on my vx6600, kinda slow, but does the job. when is some EVDO provider (c’mon Sprint i really wanna switch to ya if only i can hear you now) gonna come out with a faster 5.0 w/ as much screen real estate as my puppy here? it’s almost been a year and i’m itching to upgrade

  10. Om, I agree. Microsofts device is priced a bit to high. I heard CBS or NBC’s news report yesterday that said that Microsoft found that soccer moms who had a couple minutes to spare in between soccer practices and other chores loved the device. So maybe thats microsofts real target market.

    Sony ready miss an opportunity. They have really got to let go of their walled garden thinking. With a larger hard drive and some UI improvements the PSP would be the must have device. Hopefully Sony will ignore their RIAA hugging half and improve on a decent device.

  11. Why do you love the PSP but think this is a dud? Price? That’s because the PSP is subsidized. But imagine if this was subsidized by a carrier and you could pick it up for 200-300 dollars and a data plan?

  12. I think many people made their own assumptions on Oregami’s target market and made their own comparisons between Oregami vs. iPod, Oregami vs. PSP, etc.

    It is what it is, folks! Love it or hate it, but it’s a one of the first of a family of devices to be introduced n the coming year. Microsoft gets critized when they catch on a trend a bit too late as well as when they innovate. Apple, on the other hand, can make no mistakes, eh?

    I think everyone should take off their polarizer lenses and look at these gadget for what they are and not who’s behind them.

    Remember Newton? hmmm, no keyboard, about a $1000 when a grand was a lot more. Oh, what about the Apple Cube … that was a big success, wasn’t it? Do I need to say more? ;) Do we hate Apple for those silly mistakes? No, because these mistakes are by-product of innovation (not suggestion Oregami is the same). Microsoft is on the same path … at least when it comes to hardware.

    Hopefully the Oregami will lead the way for much better devices in this category, whether from Microsoft, Apple or Sony.


  13. Jacob Varghese

    Near instant-on bootups can be acheived just by placing the OS on a flash card. We’re heard about this forever, but we still don’t have a PC that does it.

  14. Couldn’t agree more, but I’m not sure that it even needs a hard drive, but thats ok. Why not just take the idea of a full-featured PDA, like a Dell Axim X50v and enlarge the screen? What is so wrong with instant-on operating systems? No one will like a handheld device that takes 5 minutes to boot. They are simply trying to be too much to too many people – all we are looking for is a digital assistant that is a little larger – they can already surf the web, check email, and play videos and music. Is it really that hard to figure out?

  15. Jacob Varghese

    I don’t think they want to use a different OS – it’s meant to be able to function as an ultra-mobile PC. I just think they need to tweak the OS to be work more efficiently on a UMPC platform – who knows they might have done that very thing. We haven’t actually tried out the device to judge the usability yet. Hopefully it has a simpler interface at startup for media viewing that gives way to XP when needed.

    Outside of the OS, I’m more concerned about the form – lack of keyboard. I’m a little surprised that they couldn’t fit in at least a thin keyboard which could then double as a screen cover. It would have added much to the usability of the device. I would prefer a widescreen 10″/12″ thin laptop – Sony or the new MAC iBooks. You would need a messenger bag or similar to carry around this device anyways – why wouldn’t you want a more useful one?

    Not sure there is much of a market for this. Too big to carry around in your pocket and too small and keyboardless to be used as an ultra-mobile laptop.

  16. I think Sony was (and still is) torn between making the PSP a gaming device or multimedia device. They are charging $20 for software to help you move media to the device while Apple gives iTunes away for free.

    Plus, adding a hard drive to the PSP would add $80-90 to the bill of materials cost, which would push the retail price past $300. Very expensive for just portable gaming, but right around the mark for portable media…

  17. Om,

    Give Sony 6 to 8 months and you will see the new and improved PSP2 that will show MSFT and Intel what Ulta Mobile truly is. Your right about the idea of a new OS. Apple gets it, Sony gets in and Sony understands that if content providers like Google Video continue to show PSP love that they still have a fighting chance own this space.

    I’m sure in the coming week the Origami MADNESS will end when these Gates lovers begin to understand that the device is not that innovative and that their lust for the device was really just joy that MSFT might of developed something that had the potential to be cool. The new video iPod will kick them in the gut. The PSP2, and its integration with the PS3 will slap them back to sanity and once again show them that the Origami was MSFT’s best last hope…