Initial feedback mixed on ultra mobile PC, says Samsung

A pre-launch teaser campaign from Microsoft could have had a negative effect on perceptions of the UMPC, a Samsung executive said Monday.

Feedback from customers who have bought Samsung Electronics' Q1 device suggests that a pre-launch teaser campaign by Microsoft might have backfired, according to a Samsung executive.

The Q1 went on sale in the US in May and is based on Microsoft's Origami platform. Microsoft collaborated with Intel to create Origami, which combines a tablet edition of Windows XP with a pen-based tablet computer similar in specification to a laptop computer.

"Feedback has been quite mixed," vice-president of marketing for Samsung's digital media business, David Steel, said.

A positive or negative response was generally related to how much of the pre-launch Origami hype the person had been exposed to, Steel said.

Over a period of several weeks prior to the platform's March launch at the Cebit trade show, Microsoft ran a teaser campaign in which it slowly disclosed Origami details. With few specific details released, expectations were quickly raised among IT professionals, bloggers and journalists about what Origami would be. At the same time a price tag of between $US500 and $US1000 for the devices became known.

Samsung's device debuted in May for $US1099.

Consumers who had encountered the Q1 with no prior knowledge were generally positive about the device while those who read a lot about the Origami platform prior to seeing the Q1 had been more negative, he said.

"Particularly from someone [with prior] understanding of Origami, [they have been] saying 'We expected this and expected that' and comparing specification and price with laptop computers," Steel said.

But even though a laptop could deliver more, it came at a price, Steel said.

Any such comparison usually ends with the conclusion that a laptop can deliver more for an extra US$1000.

Samsung is looking ahead to a second-generation ultra mobile PC. In preparation the company is examining the user interface and how people interact with the device. The Q1 can be used with a keyboard, pen or via its touchscreen.

"It was always going to be a first test for us," Steel said. "We think it's a new market, we don't know how big, probably not huge compared to the PC market."

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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