Microsoft Origami Revealed: 7-Inch Tablet PC; What Will it Mean for MS and Competitors? (MSFT, INTC, AAPL)

Includes: AAPL, INTC, MSFT
by: SA Editors

Microsoft's much-hyped Origami Project is reaching a culmination this week, as details of the product finally emerge: It's what partner Intel calls an Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) -- a 7-inch tablet PC platform for standard x86 processors, running a version of Windows XP, and (in some displayed models) packing a slip-out QWERTY thumboard. According to CNBC, the price point is expected to be 'under $1000'. The official announcement is planned for Thursday at Intel's Developer Forum in San Francisco.

See 'exclusive' video from CNBC (IE6 only, search for 'Origami Project') and the Microsoft teaser video (no product images).

Reactions from analysts, investors and hardware experts:

Carl Howe on poor marketing so far: 'The Origami Project has built a nice buzz marketing campaign over the last three weeks... But what is most telling about this campaign is that no one has articulated why an ordinary person might want one of these devices. That's not a good thing. Does anyone remember the original iPod launch with the tagline "1,000 songs in your pocket."? Where's the message to the consumer?

'We'll see what happens Thursday. Perhaps Intel will create a clear message of what need these devices satisfy then. But based upon the information we have now, it looks like this is just a small tablet PC with no particular target market, and it appears it will be marketed as such. If that's the case, expect this device to sell well to early adopters and then to fade into obscurity as the rest of the population says, "Origami. Isn't that something having to do with paper folding?"'

Chris Kraeuter and Rachel Rosmarin (Forbes) on the inauspicious precedent: 'no matter what Microsoft has to say about its new line of portable PCs, it's unclear whether it makes sense for the company to pursue the product. The company's last attempt at a sub-laptop computer--the tablet PC--has yet to pan out after being introduced in late 2002... The history of computing over the last decade and a half is littered with other portable products that have gained cult status, but little else.'

Nathan Weinberg on battery life: 'Generation one UMPCs will get 3-hours of battery life as targeted, and Intel hopes batteries will be able to last all day “probably next year or later