David Pogue of the NYT takes the Samsung Q1 and UMPCs in general to task for not going far enough, My summation, not his. You’ll need to fill out a form online at the NYT if you want to read the article. I haven’t seen the Samsung Q1 yet, so it’s difficult to comment on the particulars, so I hope those that have will blog about it.
As Robert Scoble points out, the biggest hurdle here is not simply the First-Generation features of the UMPC. It’s the price. The higher the price, the more attractive full-blown notebooks and even full-blown Tablet PCs become. Wasn’t Averatec selling a brand new, full size Tablet PC at Costco for less than a Q1 last year? Oh, and with prices above $1000, miniature Tablets, such as the Motion LS800, complete with an active digitizer, start looking mighty nice.
Actually, the price isn’t the whole equation. We’ve all seen cases where the next coolest thing can cost a bit more, but seems to pull people in anyway. The iPod is one example. The key here is that there has to be something compelling about the experience or the product itself. I think the UMPC from a hardware perspective is pretty close (Again I’ve only played with pre-production the TabletKiosk eo and the Founder UMPCs). What’s missing are the bundled services. UMPCs could use three months of free movie downloads; and/or three months of Rapsody; and/or bundled EVDO; and/or a Slingbox bundle. This is how OEMs could somewhat sidestep the price issue. Without this, they’re standing primarily on their hardware.
My mantra: Don’t forget the experience.
I don’t know what OEMs will be offering with their UMPCs (I hope some of the above), but even if they don’t I bet there will be some pretty passionate early adopters that show how its done and build up UMPC “experiences” by themselves. They’ll probably be a little clunky and take a few extra steps, but who knows, some might just hit on a sweet spot. That possibility is why I’m an early adopter myself. I like to find new opportunities like this. I have my Slingbox cabled-up and my Streets and Trips with its GPS all unpacked and ready to go. I’m just waiting for a UMPC.
Update #2: Walt Mossberg reviews the Samsung Q1 here too in the Wall Street Journal. I agree with Walt’s assessment that price is important.