What is Microsoft up to?
Look at the Origami Project and you don’t get very much information, but what little you do get implies that Origami is going to be something mobile-ish, something tablet-ish, something multimedia-ish.
An iPod competitor? Perhaps, in the sense that it will almost certainly include file storage and music playing features. But just because something can store music files and play them, that doesn’t make it a serious iPod competitor.
If Microsoft is really going to compete seriously with the iPod, it has to concentrate on making something that is not only incredibly useful, but also incredibly simple. That’s why the iPod has been such a huge success, because it is simple to use.
Microsoft has traditionally concentrated on releasing products that are very powerful, with lots of features (think of the Windows-powered PDAs and tablets) but with the power comes complexity. And that puts a lot of people off.
If they really want to compete with the iPod, they need to release something that connects to a Windows computer in a snap, with no fuss at all. Something that has an interface so simple it can be used with one finger if necessary (like a cell phone). Something so immediately obvious to the user that getting started doesn’t really require reference to any manuals or guide books.
I’m rather hopeful that Origami will be a step in this direction, a move towards simplicity from Microsoft. If it can make a product as simple to use as the iPod, but with more features built-in, it might be on the road to building a serious iPod competitor.