Thursday, March 09, 2006

Origami Project Unveiled

Sometime later today (whenever America finally catches up with the fact that it is already the 9th March 2006) Microsoft will reveal the Origami Project. Except it's already obvious what it's about.

Amid intense speculation to what this really is, some details have emerged (at msmobiles.com, c|net), perhaps only because Microsoft's hardware partners have decided to leak their prototype gadgets in order to harvest the buzz for their own products. So far the hardware manufacturers have simply disappointed the market with what seem to be badly designed, barely out of prototype devices.

So here goes my take on Origami ...

Microsoft are not really into making hardware, Origami is a platform for hardware manufacturers to use for a new type of device, much like TabletPC was. The key question is what kind of device?

The simple answer is a mobile one, something affordable enough to be considered attactive to consumers (unlike the TabletPC which has amore corporate market), something that offers mobile and wireless access (all kinds), and is portable enough that it can replace your mobile phone. Something that allows you to enjoy video on the go, much as iPod allows you to enjoy music.

Actually that's an interesting point. Apple are very good at delivering focussed products that just do enough to be usable, but are beautifully optimised. Microsoft tend to deliver broadbrush products that can do all things ... adequately (the Xbox notably departing from that).

The business world doesn't need a cutdown mobile solution, so this has to be aimed at consumers. So far, Microsoft wins in the business world, but in our personal lives Apple has hit a major win with the iPod. The real question is not what Origami is, but whether you want one badly enough to plunk down the cold hard cash (or warm springy plastic) to get yourself one.

Personally I won't ... but I'm old school and enjoy reading a book to killing my hearing with headphones. I love good music, but without great (bulky) headphones the experience is a turnoff after more than 5 mins. Will you be in the market for an Origami powered device?

[UPDATE:]
Well, I was right, Engadget confirmed that it is a platform for a new set of consumer devices, and gave us some pictures from CeBIT.

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