Origami is Newton + XBox Portable

The "Origami" device Microsoft is about to release is part organizer and all Gen-Y: it's the portable XBox device I described last year.

Origami at playOkay, first, go watch the video. It's about Origami, a Microsoft tablet that has wireless and media features that passes from one younger (than old guys like me) user to another. Then, go read my posting about the portable XBox from last summer.

Then, come back. I'll wait.

I didn't know it was called Origami, but this is the device I'd heard about floating around in Microsoft for some time. Microsoft's Robert Scoble has more on the announcement, which took Microsoft bloggers by surprise, here.

While there is a lot of tablet PC in this gadget, it is Microsoft's idea of the perfect tool for taking an iPod generation raised on immersive games into adulthood and professional life. If you look at the Origami in the video, its front panel changes a bit in some scenes, suggesting what we're seeing is a prototype or series of prototypes rather than the final product. The first thing that's clear is it is the grandson of Newton, not WinPad, the Microsoft counterpunch (never launched) to Newton. From the contours to the size, layout of the controller and, of course, the pen, it shows what Newton promised a decade and a half ago.

It's what we don't see that's key: While the Origami is used to control and view a Media Center PC remotely, to listen to music, as well as appearing to run Halo, there's no reference to portable video. Because the youth market lives in media, the core of this device is largely XBox, and it will likely support the XBox 360 Memory Units and XBox 360 Hard Drives, which clip onto the XBox 360 to make one's life, including games, movies, TV shows, and audio portable. Origami will probably need to plugged in to an AC outlet to use high-capacity storage, but there is a lot of sitting around going on in that video.

Messaging, file transfers, sketching and hooks into the Office Live services will connect the Origami to business functionality, but if built on an XBox kernel the device will live outside all current antitrust litigation, as it will not be Windows. That, as much as its youth appeal (though, I admit that I want one, too) and game business growth is why Microsoft is going in this direction.