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Will Microsoft’s New ‘Ultra-Mobile’ Computer Fly or Flop? Past Experience Offers Some Clues


on has a fascinating article on the UMPC / Origami. It is written by Knowledge @ Wharton . If you are interested in the UMPC market, I’d highly recommend the article.

On the whole, it offers a very balanced view of the future of the UMPC and its viability for success, and offers some insight in to why Microsoft is pursuing this market.

Here the article summary:

Although Microsoft recently unveiled an ‘ultra-mobile personal computer,’ or UMPC, in a move to fill a market niche between laptops and handheld computers, it remains to be seen whether this latest innovation from the software giant will be a hit or flop. While Microsoft is following a “build-it-and-it-will-sell” strategy with the UMPC, technology history is littered with innovative products that never found a market, say experts at Wharton. As Wharton professor of operations and information management Eric K. Clemons puts it: “Build-it-and-it-will-sell strategies are a mixed bag.” 

Towards the end of the article, they map out what will define success for the UMPC:

Determining whether the UMPC is successful will take more than a few quarters, says Shelton, adding that the time frame to judge success could take years. “There’s a lot of jockeying going on [in the device market] and it’s really about finding the right mix of size, price and functionality.” Indeed, Microsoft’s Mitchell notes that the UMPC is the company’s “first step toward achieving a big vision.”

According to Bradlow, one way to gauge the success of the UMPC will be to look at different time frames. If the UMPC doesn’t sell well initially, yet leads to further computing advances, Microsoft could have a short-term failure and a long-term success story. “Microsoft may, and probably does, have short-run and long-run reasons for entering this market,” he says. “Even if the product fails at some level, there may certainly be other benefits to consider.”

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