With the recent viral marketing by Microsoft of their new Origami platform I was again reminded of a critical aspect in the design of a good hand-held device. Be it PDA, smart phone or MP3 player, form factor is king.
I remember getting my first Palm PDA, a Palm IIIc, many years ago. My initial thought on opening the box was just how small it was and how well it fitted into my hand. I had seen the Apple Newton and others in the past but had found them cumbersome, Palm on the other hand had got it just right. Of course this is all due to the amazing fore thought of Jeff Hawkins who, before inventing the original Palm Pilot, carried around a little block of wood in his chest pocket. He must have looked a little weird but through this he was simulating what it would be like to carry such a device with you all day. In short, he was more interested in the end user experience than flashy features designed to impress in the short term.
Palm devices may have got a little bigger, the LifeDrive for example, but most, the T/X, E2 etc. are close to this original size. Looking to the other devices out there that have been a great success, the Treo 650 to name but one, you can't help but notice that they get things just right. This is no mean feat, a few mm extra thicker, a cm longer and users will notice, getting the balance just right is an art form.
Which brings me back to Origami. Looking at it and the Nokia 770, which seems to share a similar form factor, I can't help but feel things just aren't right. Too big to put in your pocket while not big enough to truly replace your laptop or Tablet PC, a device without an identity.
Of course I could be wrong, Origami might be the beginning of something big but I can't help but feel that, as usual, it's feature rich but experience poor.
What do you think?