February 26, 2006

Microsoft's Origami Project Unfolding

Microsoft (MSFT) has been making a lot of noise of late in trying to take on Apple's (AAPL) 4-year lead with the iPod. While Windows Media has had strong success, Microsoft's efforts to promote tablet PCs through its OEM partners or promoting Windows Media Center have been less successful.

The company's software roots have prevented it from competing head on with the iPod, with the Xbox monopolizing Microsoft's hardware efforts, as the company prefers to rely on Gateway (GTW), HP (HPQ), Dell (DELL) and others to promote its products. But following the rise and fall of the Dell DJ (now only the DJ Ditty is offered), Creative's MuVo and Zen lines, and a myriad of flash player iPod wannabes, the iPod continues to have the overwhelming majority of unit sales and revenue, and Microsoft can't be too pleased.

In the last week, leaked images and a video of an upcoming product called "Origami" are making the rounds on the usual sites - including Engadget. A video promoting the product shows users operating the device with a handheld stylus, listening to MP3s, acting as a drawing tablet, and handling digital photography. Significantly larger than the iPod, but smaller than a sub-laptop, Origami is in avocado green, and certainly can't fit into your pocket. Estimates have said the device could debut in the $500 range, but all is clearly speculative at this point.

With the tablet PC market being in the gutter, is the world ready for a Microsoft-led offering, and does it stand a chance at breaking through Apple's iPod/iTunes duopoly?

Related Links:

The Origami Project
Engadget: Microsoft's Origami Project

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