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UMPC pioneer gives up the ghost

May 22, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

UMPC (ultra mobile PC) pioneer OQO has apparently shut down, leaving no remaining stock and no provision for servicing and support. The company's technology and engineering team could transition to another PC vendor, however, reports the blog

For several months, owners of OQO's UMPCs (pictured above) have reportedly complained that devices sent in for servicing were either returned still broken, or not returned at all. On May 14, a posting attributed to OQO appeared on the OQO Talk online forum, as follows: “We are sad to report that due to financial constraints, OQO is not able to offer repair and service support at this time. We are deeply sorry that despite our best intentions, we are unable to provide continued support for our faithful customers. Please accept our sincerest apologies.”

Now, Xavier Lanier of cites a conversation with Bob Rosin, OQO's SVP of sales and marketing, in which he reportedly “confirmed that OQO is finished.” The company's “technology and engineering team will live on if a deal they're working on with another PC vendor pans out,” Lanier adds.

In the absence of an official announcement, these reports remain mere hearsay. But, while the OQO website is still up, the company does not reply to emails or answer phones, making it appear that in a world of sub-$500 netbooks, the company's $1,500 UMPCs simply could no longer find a market.

OQO's original Model 01
(Click image for further information)

Originally unveiled in prototype form in 2002, the OQO Model 01 UMPC (right) first shipped in October 2004. The device, which measured 4.9 x 3.4 x 0.9 inches and weighed 14 ounces, came with an 800 x 480 screen, a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, 20GB hard drive, and 256GB of RAM. Although it shipped with Windows XP, Linux lovers quickly tuxified the x86-based device.

OQO's Model 02
(Click image for further information)

The pioneering device was updated as the slightly larger OQO Model 2 (left), measuring 5.6 x 3.3 x 1.0 inches. Still with a slide-out “thumb” keyboard, it included a Via C7M ULV processor, 1GB of RAM, hard drives up to 120GB in size (or solid-state disks up to 64GB), and an optional sunlight-readable display.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), OQO unveiled a promising revamp, the Model 2+, pictured at top. The new version was to have Intel Atom processors, the 1.86GHz Z540 or Z520, plus a “world first” in the form of an optional OLED (organic light emitting diode) display, with a claimed 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio.

Unfortunately, neither reviewers nor customers ever received samples of the Model 2+, an early sign that OQO's business model was no longer tenable in these days of netbooks selling for well under $500. While UMPCs originally targeted the enterprise market, there have recently been signs that the concept will find new life — too late for OQO, apparently — as a consumer product.

Further information

To read the OQO Talk and blog posts referenced above, go here and here, respectively.

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