I loved this comment to Kevin Tofel’s post on the Asus Eee PC:
You kinda get the feeling that the Origami team is saying “D’OH” right about now.
So it should. Origami (officially known as Ultra Mobile PC) is an attempt to re-define the ultra-portable market. It uses a touch screen, no keyboard. It is typically more expensive than a traditional laptop. It usually comes with just basic Windows software.
The Asus Eee PC is a bunch of mass-market components thrown together. It is the classic clamshell design. It comes with a bundle of free software that encompasses a large percentage of what people actually do on their portable computers: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, web, music playback. It throws in a webcam for good measure. It is cheaper than almost any laptop on the market.
Result: UMPC has pretty much flopped, while Eee PC is a runaway bestseller and nobody can get enough stock.
This isn’t primarily a Windows versus Linux thing. In fact, the Eee PC is set up to be Windows-friendly, and Open Office is set to save in Microsoft Office formats by default. Further, the Eee PC can run Windows XP; and most of its applications are also available for Windows. An Asus Windows XP Eee PC is planned.
To my mind, the success of Eee PC proves that the Origami team got at least one thing right. There is a market for full-function ultra-portables.
What the Origami team got wrong is first, that ultra-portables that cost more than laptops are never going to be a mass-market proposition. Second, users like keyboards and would rather have a cheaper device than a touch screen. Third, a bundle of software that does everything you want is a great advantage.
As it is, Eee PC is bringing desktop Linux to the mass market. Interesting times.