Origami, Pretty Underwhelmed

Origami, photo borrowed from Engadget

Michael Gartenberg – Origami Revealed – First Take Analysis Michael Gartenberg has his first take analyst opinion out on Origami and it’s a pretty good read on the pros and cons of the technology.

Personally for me, I look at Origami and say why in the world would anyone want one of these things? Maybe I just don’t get it.

This is what Gartenberg says: “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.”


“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.”

Ok, so lets see, it’s too big to put in my pocket. So I have to put it in my bag. But I’ve already got my laptop (which are getting cheaper and cheaper every day) in my bag and that has much more functionality, storage, power, larger screen, and oh yeah that keyboard thing that helps me to enter data.

While I’m sure that Origami makes it easy to enter data, it’s going to be very difficult to convince me that it’s easier to enter data into it than it is with a laptop and a keyboard. So if I’m going to have to carry something in my bag anyways wouldn’t I rather have something that is vastly superior in almost every way?

Sure this may be a trendy hip thing to cart around and show people and the trendsters in Japan may love it, but to me it reminds me of that big brick cell phone that Gordon Gecko calls Bud Fox on in the movie Wall Street. Remember the one? “Money never sleeps pal. When I came in in ’69, they traded six hours a day, now the clock don’t stop, London’s deregulated, the Orient is hungrier than us. Just let the money circle the world, sport, buying and selling, and if you’re smart it comes back paying. I just made $800,000 in Hong Kong gold. It’s been wired to you — play with it.”

I mean why would anyone build one of those massive big brick cellphones these days? And why would anyone build essentially a big brick portable PDA. And this one doesn’t even appear to have a phone in it (although people would probably look pretty silly with Origami’s pasted to the side of their heads).

Certainly as an existing laptop owner this product has zero appeal to me. Do I need a laptop? Yes. Do I need a super small device that I can still stay online with when I can’t carry my laptop (which is super rare) yes, that’s why I have my Audiovox SMT 5600. Do I need a third device to clutter up my bag along with my laptop and my Canon 5D and 3 lenses? Nope.

I’m sure Gartenberg’s right and there is a market for these things, but it’s certainly not Thomas Hawk and I suspect other enthusiasts are also not going to see the benefit in a third hybrid device.

One thing I do agree with Gartenberg on is that the name sucks. “What’s missing from Origami? Well, the name first of all. I think Origami is much better than ultra-portable PC.”

While Gartenberg is right, Origami is in fact better than ultra-portable PC (which it seriously would not have surprised me to have seen Microsoft name it that), the name doesn’t work for me. First off, it’s horrible for search. Want to look for reviews on Origami (I just tried)? Type Origami and review into Google and see what it spits back. A hodge podge of sites on everything from dinning to paper folding to Uriah Heep album covers. Do a search for Origami in Google Image Search and it’s all about the paper folding thing again. Heck try even searching on MSN for images (damn, I didn’t win again) and look at this hodge podge of a mess that you get. While this may certainly change over time, it doesn’t make finding out more information about the product exactly easy for the mainstream. Now back to hawking the unit to Japanese hipsters and well you may have a point on the name there. If course it also doesn’t help that the name is not easy to spell.

If you want to see Origami closer up, Scoble’s got a video up on Channel 9. Also Engadget’s got a good write up on it as well here.

Just my two cents. Now, got to get back to that $800,000 in Hong Kong gold.

Update: Ugh, I should have paid closer attention to the naming part of this thing. Dave Zatz points out that it actually is officially called the Ultra-Mobile PC.

Update #2: Apple Matters pretty much sums up my thoughts on why I don’t like Origami yet with an article out today.