March 07, 2006

Don't Believe The Hype

After all the hype around Microsoft's Origami, prototypes of the devices were displayed at Intel's Developer Forum today, and according the, the response has been a resounding thud. After weeks of bloggers hyping what could have been an iPod-killer, a PSP-killer, Palm-killer all in one, the device looks a lot like a tablet, too large for a handheld and too small for a laptop - so yet another entry in this elusive market that is hard to define and even harder to serve.

Interestingly, Microsoft's PR execution followed by an understated product introduction follows a very similar experience from TiVo last week, and Apple earlier. In all three cases, the companies elusively spread tidbits of information, and in the vacuum, bloggers and media hopefuls filled in the gaps - almost to a fault, as in every case more was expected than what was delivered, satisfying none who were watching. In this era of instant analysis, product debuts can be crowned successes or defeats even before a single device has shipped and reached customers. It's a far cry from the mantra of "underpromise and overdeliver". Through time, companies that elicit such a strong following will have to learn to temper expectations - whether through improved secrecy or in its opposite, increased openness.