Is the world ready for the Origami device?

21 Mar 2006|Leigh Marinner

Microsoft just announced an ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) called Origami, which runs a full version of Windows. It will cost around $500 and is slightly bigger than pocket size. You have to attach a separate keyboard, but it has a touch sensitive screen. Origami is made to surf the net, show movies, read email, sync with Outlook and do most of what you would do on a laptop that doesn’t involve heavy text entry. Origami is getting closer to Bill Gates’ vision of a small inexpensive PC, but it needs 3G wireless access in addition to WiFi and Bluetooth to enable people to stay connected anywhere. Pundits such as Ed Hardy of Brighthand are saying “I just can’t see any reason why someone would be willing to pay $500 for a Windows Mobile or Pocket PC device when they could get one running Windows XP or Windows Vista for the same price.”

On the contrary, I think many people will want a smartphone with Windows Mobile 5.0. You won’t always carry your UMPC, but you will always have your phone. And you’ll want to check email, and see your address book and calendar on your phone. It will be interesting to see which devices the market chooses as the options expand – smartphones, laptops, UMPCs, Pocket PC handhelds, iPods, PSPs, portable media or DVD players. I don’t think consumers want one converged device, and just adding functions doesn’t mean success (witness iPod Photo, or Nokia N-Gage). Although consumers can’t reliably tell you whether they would use a device until they actually see it in action and watch what others do with it, in the research we’re doing for our clients we’re beginning to see which way the current is pulling.

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