Microsoft reinvents the Trapper Keeper with Courier
September 23, 2009 § 1 Comment
The fanboy web is abuzz with the above conceptual video that demonstrates Microsoft’s proposed Courier in action. The Courier is a notebook-style tablet computer with gesture and handwriting recognition that uses the familiar activities of paper-based note-taking and scrap-booking as metaphors for how one would use the device. With all the speculation surrounding the forthcoming Apple tablet, some have suggested that Courier is a reminder that we shouldn’t take our eyes off Microsoft’s secretive work in the sub-laptop arena. But aside from the very well-produced concept mockup demonstrated here, what fascinates me about Courier is that it is built on a very different design metaphor compared to supposed mockups of the Apple tablet. That is to say, Courier emulates using a notebook . . . or dayplanner . . . or Trapper Keeper.
But is this the right design metaphor?
One could argue that this is the perfect blend of the familiar and the new that could open up a new category of mobile computing. But on the other hand, this could be limiting. Where the Courier demo excels at demonstrating the device’s exceptional on-the-fly note-taking and inspiration-gathering capabilities, it seems ill-fitted for media consumption. I can’t imagine using the device for entertainment content.
And herein lies a clear indication of how Apple and Microsoft will compete in the sub-laptop arena: Apple’s tablet will likely major in entertainment (no duh) while Microsoft will stake out mobile business and academic utility.
Stay tuned to see how this plays out. For now, I’ll take one of each.