As we traveled around the CES convention floor in search of Tablet PC/UMPC/Mobile devices and news to cover we found some interesting developments in the mobile space. We also listened to a lot of discussion about UMPCs from different manufacturers. There is a lot of excitement about the UMPC as a concept but something is missing and it sits as a little (or sometimes big) nag in the back of many minds. So, what is that Holy Grail that everyone comes back to? Keyboards? Connectivity? Software? Processing power? No, it is price point. To a person, every discussion I had with any vendor, evangelist, or anyone remotely familiar with the UMPC, it came down to price point. There is sadly no surprise on the consensus and I heard it over and over again. When the UMPC can be sold for that original target of $500 to $600 then things will take off. We talked to several automobile outfitters who make mounting solutions and one, Azentek, that is coming up with its own ruggedized model to follow up on the PaceBlade model they now sell, and that consensus is the same (although no one expects a ruggedized PC to sell for that low a price point.)
Well the UMPC/Origami ever reach that Holy Grail of a price point? I think, not surpisngly it is far too early to tell. And with the Medion and OQO moving Vista capable units into the mix seemingly aimed at the high end executive and enthusiast markets, my personal opinion is we are still a ways off from seeing the UMPCs reach a consumer sweet spot in the price point game. An interesting anecdote that found its way into each of these conversations. Remember when Woot was selling refurbed Samsung Q1s for $750? They were snapped up very quickly. Everyone was using that as an example of what the UMPC is capable of, if the price point is right. I couldn’t agree more.