Microsoft has officially unveiled its Origami project, but the big question is what sort of market acceptance will greet devices based on the ultramobile platform.
Microsoft and Intel teamed up to debut the mobile platform at the Cebit show, with Samsung Electronics showing the first device based on the Origami reference design. Executives behind the project said the company had given careful consideration to customers' willingness to accept yet another mobile computing device before deciding to launch the product.
Microsoft built the reference design for Origami last year, and began shopping it around to customers to see if there was interest, Microsoft's corporate vice-president of the Mobile Platforms Division, William Mitchell, said. The positive feedback resulted in the company developing what it calls a third "design centre" for the Windows OS.
The result, Origami, was closer to the interactive experience people have when they use PDAs, Mitchell said.
It also differed from the immersive experience of using a PC and the more relaxed experience of watching media on a Windows Media Center PC, he said. Mitchell acknowledged gadget enthusiasts would buy the first Origami devices. Current mobile PC or PDA users would be the second wave of Origami adopters in the next 18 months. Origami represented a middle-ground device that could do Internet browsing and data storage, as well as play media and enable gaming, he said. It could end up being the one device customers use in favour of the several they currently use - such as portable music players, PDAs and portable media players.
While agreeing that there was a market for the device, analyst with Jupiter Research, Michael Gartenberg, said Origami wouldn't necessarily replace existing products like Apple's iPod or existing PDAs and PCs. But other portable media and game-playing devices that cost between $US500 and $US1000 - the price point Microsoft is targeting for Origami - and lack the computing power and functionality of the Windows OS may be in danger of obsolescence, he said.
"The fact that Origami is a PC-based platform means 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 said.