Thursday, March 09, 2006

JupiterResearch: Origami Revealed - First Take Analysis

As usual Michael Gartenberg at JupiterResearch gets to play with the good stuff before anyone else. This time he takes a look at the Microsoft Origami platform and device. He got his hands on a pre-production Intel unit and talks "about Origami as a platform" and "what it means." Gartenberg notes that:

First, Origami is different from all the tiny little Windows machines that have come before it. It's different from the Sony U series, it's different than the Libretto and it's different from an OQO. Those machines, while wildly popular with the Japanese mainstream and US geek markets have never taken off in a big way. One reason is that taking Windows and shrinking it down to size doesn't make it more usable, in fact less so. Add in the fact that making smaller machines means making computers that cost more and in the US, we pay a premium for large sizes not smaller less functional ones. Origami gets over these issues in two ways. First, by focusing on touch and creating a new way of interacting and entering information, Origami gets over the issue of tiny keyboards. Second, Origami introduces a new paradigm for UI. Much like there were PCs with TV tuners long before MCE, the power of MCE was really the 10 foot UI. The power of Origami is really in the 10" UI. Finally, by focusing on what could be delivered in today's technology sweet spot, Origami doesn't come in at the $2,000 price point, a major difference in terms of who can afford these machines and those prices will only go down.
On the subject of usage model, Gartenberg adds that:
Origami as a concept may well change what devices people carry with them. While it's not a pocketable device, Origami units by design are small enough to be kept close at hand. The fact that they run Windows means that they can excel at a variety of tasks, from productivity to games to media consumption (it's a great Slingbox client, for example). That means there's several different types of user scenarios, both consumer and business in nature that you can envision. Origami isn't an iPod killer per se, it's rather a new class of device that will compete with other devices that cost about the same. That means portable media players, game machines, GPS units and the like will face some new challenges. The fact that Origami is a PC based platform means that there's a lot of functionality that it's going to be capable of and like the PC be able to offer a no-compromise solution for most of these applications.
Gartenberg ends with what he thinks Origami is missing and where it might be going:
Well, the name first of all. I think Origami is much better than ultra-portable PC. Other things include, battery life. (Right now these machines really need to be sold with a higher capacity battery if you're going to use one as a life style device going through the day). They could also use cheap 3G solutions for connectivity and a smaller form and higher storage capacities. All of those can come over time riding technology curves down. At the moment, Origami is going to appeal mostly to the enthusiasts who can use this as not a second, but likely a third PC and students who can get access to cheap Tablet PC technology. That's not a bad market for a v1 device. After all, the first iPods went only to Mac users (who had 1394 on their machines) and early Windows enthusiasts. That changed over time. Expect the Origami story to evolve and remember, we haven't seen the Origami story in the Vista timeframe. Look at Origami the way you might look at a new platform, not the value of a particular machine today.
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