Origami – Insanely Average

kinnon —  March 10, 2006 — Leave a comment

Insanely Average” – perhaps that could be the new marketing slogan for the new Ultra-Mobile PC – the hype formally known as Origami.

A day after it’s unveiling, 24 hours after watching Scoble’s Otto Berkes video, I’m wondering why MSFT couldn’t have lived up to the iHype it created around Origami. Why couldn’t the geeks in Redmond have delivered an insanely great product that had technojunkies of every stripe lining up at our dealers – to be first on the waiting list? Sort of an XBox360 launch experience.

Hopes were high as Berkes had been a key part of the XBox team. Perhaps Origami would be to MSFT what iPod had been to Apple. A category-establishing, category-dominating, lust-inducing techno jewel.

It’s not.

It’s a portable DVD-player screen, wrapped in a rather clunky case, powered by a 1Ghz x86 processor, running a lightened version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. (Now doesn’t that just roll off your tongue.) But, hey, this version has big software buttons so you can give the finger use your finger(s) to navigate the 800×480 screen. (Screen cleaner does not come standard on the UMPC – is that pronounced ummppch?)

One might ask, why should I have expected more from Microsoft? Well, that would be Scoble’s fault. Scoble, the insanely great blogger and honest MSFT evangelist. Whose infectious laugh echoes in Channel 9 videos and rebounds in the pixel smoothed words of his blog. Scoble has convinced me that MSFT gets it – that brilliance is being unleashed in every corner of the Redmond campus – that we will be shocked by what’s coming from the fertile minds of Microsofties. XBox360 was just the beginning. (Why do I hear Eliza Doolittle saying to Professor Higgins, “Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins, just you wait!”) There’s so much more coming.

And perhaps there is. But as Eliza might say, “H’origami h’aint h’it.”

As I’ve mentioned a number of times in the past week, I’m reading Getting Real from the dream-enabling brains of 37Signals. I love their software. And the book tells the story of their commitment to simply elegant and elegantly simple software that just works. Built by a lean team, unhampered by a layer of middle management who are charter members of the Idea-Killing club. Getting Real should be required reading for every Microsoftie. (Please, please don’t buy 37signals, Microsoft.)

And Kathy Sierra should be hired on contract to infect the entire company with her “Creating Passionate Users” mantra.

Rollupdisplay-1Here’s what Origami should have been. And perhaps the folded paper metaphor might have made sense, then.

You would actually be able to carry an Origami unit in your pocket because:

  • The display would be a color version of Philips rollable e-paper*
  • The software would be AJAX-based (off-line* enabled) with hooks into all the pseudo-necessary Desktop apps
  • Flash memory would provide storage
  • Battery-life would have been a full day
  • The first generation units would come with EVDO standard
  • 2nd generation units would be WiMax enabled.

Sure there are thousands of reasons why this couldn’t have happened – just like there are thousands of reasons RIM never should have developed the Blackberry. Thousands of reasons why the iPod should just be another MP3 player. And thousands of reasons why the once dominant GM is heading for extinction.

*Color e-paper links here, here, here and here.
*Check out off-line AJAX here

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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