The Washington Post's Personal Technology Consultant, Rob Pegorao takes a look at Samsung's Q1 UMPC/Origami and like the majority of the Main Stream Media finds it lacking. Chris Pirillo says I told you so. James Kendrick asks Where's the UMPC love? Mark "Sumocat" Sumimoto and Kendrick both point to the marketing as a part of the problem. My anonymous troll who only emails his/her comments (leave a comment, expand the conversation) accuses me of being a "piker partisan" for taking to task some of the very negative reviews of the Samsung Q1. Real users are starting to report their findings.
Shaky times in the Tabletscape and the Origami orbit.
Anyone who follows Tablet PCs and the Origami/UMPC who didn't see this kind of negative response coming is blind or just hopelessly naive. The brain trust behind the Origami viral launch created a fiasco. Yes, their campaign in marketing standards was a raging success. It got folks talking and buzzing and excited. Lots of folks. But that kind of success often breeds failure in the end when the product can't keep up with the hype. The semiotics skewed hype into hope and hopelessly missed. This is a completely classic case of marketeers being too smart for their own good (and the product.)
I remember a theatre marketing campaign back in my Chicago days when a very well respected theatre started a campaign that began with Once in a decade a great theatre company meets a great play and great things happen. The production that resulted was good. Not great. Just good. But the reviewers had a field day with leads that began with statements that said, Maybe once in a decade a great theatre company meets a great play and great things happen, this is isn't it. The production, NOT THE MARKETING CAMPAIGN, undeservedly became a running joke in the community.
Kendrick and Sumocat are both correct. Overreaching marketing hype is a big part of this fiasco. Heck, even Scoble started backing away quickly after the viral approach became a little too infectious. But once the cat was out of the bag, like a virus, it took on a life of its own.
This has roots far deeper than just the Origami campaign though. It stems from the pitifully poor marketing efforts of the Tablet PC platform. There is good news out there on the Tablet PC front, but except for those who have seen the light and blog about it, and a few media types who are actually digging deeper than the press releases, it is hard to find. I've blogged countless times that using a line about the failure of the Tablet PC platform has become almost boilerplate language when someone writes about it. Strike that, it has.
Another anecdote from my Chicago theatre days. I worked for the now defunct Body Politic Theatre. The executive director, at a time that the theatre was foundering badly financially, launched a "Save the Body Politic" campaign going public with the theatre's desperate financial woes. It was good tactic that indeed saved the theatre. But for the rest of that remarkable theatre's run, every article or review that ever got written began with the lead "The financially beleaguered Body Politic Theatre..." We could never get past that and the theatre eventually folded.
If you ask me, the folks behind the marketing efforts of the Tablet PC in Redmond and elsewhere are snake-bit and therefore don't try to counteract the damage past efforts created. Why else would you see so little mention of the Tablet capability in the UMPC? But in ignoring the past they've just thrown more fuel on the future fire and that fire is about to consume the launch of the UMPC before it gets out of the gate.
I'm no partisan piker here, although I do believe in the promise of the concept. There are real issues (battery life, performance, Vista capability,) with this first generation of UMPC devices that reach beyond the typical first generation isn't always a winner panacea so often uttered. I just don't think you can roll out beta hardware to the public unless you say so.
Sadly, I fear we are going to see a new concept for mobile computing saddled with mistakes of the past, mistakes in marketing, and mistakes in timing before it has a chance to get started. And even if it does eventually begin to win the hearts and minds of users, like the Tablet PC, it is going to be hereafter referred to as a failed effort. The early UMPCs may or may not be ready for prime time. Regardless, the folks who thought they could squeak one by deserve the rap that a growing chorus is singing.
Microsoft is awfully proud of its deck reshuffling to get on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. It is also time for a sea change or house cleaning when it comes to its marketing and launch efforts.