Scoble Warns: Origami Over-Hyped?

Speculation continued over the weekend regarding Microsoft's Origami Project, with a purported video of the product further feeding the rumor mill. Microsoft admits the video of the portable PC is legit, but says it was an early concept. Company evangelist and blogger Robert Scoble warns the hype may lead to disappointment.

News of Origami broke last week after Microsoft leaked out a teaser Web site at origamiproject.com. A Flash animation pops up three questions: "Do you know what I can do? Or where I can go? Or how I can change your life?" It ends with the text, "Learn more on 3.2.06."

While initial expectation pointed to an actual product unveiling on March 2, Microsoft now says it will simply offer some more details on Origami. The project's site indicates there will be two more weeks of updates providing additional information.

However, with the hype building up fast, Microsoft could release specifics sooner than it had planned. A number of analysts have already been briefed on Origami, and a demonstration is planned for Thursday at Microsoft's Redmond campus.

Still, hard facts have yet to leak out -- aside from the Digital Kitchen video showcasing a wireless mini-PC with touch screen. The device looks similar to a small Tablet PC, but the video gives no indication of its ability to fold, which is ostensibly why Microsoft chose the Origami name.

It's also not yet clear whether Microsoft is simply building the software technology and will tap hardware partners to actually build Origami. The company took such an approach with Portable Media Centers, which have largely failed to take off in the marketplace in the face of competition from Apple's iPod.

In a blog post Monday, Robert Scoble, who has written a book on the importance of blogging, used Origami as an example of how Microsoft could have better kept the hype from boiling over. He warned that customers might feel let down when an official announcement is made.

"I know you don't want to let bloggers in on the secret, but when you don't tell us what's up we can't help you keep expectations under control. Now everyone expects Origami to be bigger than the Xbox. I'd much rather expectations were dialed down a bit," Scoble said.

But gadget lovers aren't easily dissuaded when a new device is on the horizon -- especially one coming from Microsoft that claims it "can change your life."

While he can't yet comment on Origami, Jupiter Research senior analyst and Microsoft Monitor author Joe Wilcox echoed Scoble's sentiment. "My rule of thumb for any product is simple: Under promise and over deliver," he told BetaNews. "If you promise the moon, make sure you deliver the stars."

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