Will Olivetti Bring the Old Cachet to Tablet Computing?

Olivett's OliBook S1500, a notebook available in Europe. Will the company brings its legendary panache to bear on tablets?

In the mid-twentieth century, Olivetti’s typewriters and other machines epitomized the cool sprezzatura of Italian design. The company’s iconic portable typewriter, the Lettera 22, is even in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. (The sleek machine weighed more than eight pounds´┐Żbut it never needed charging!) The company remains vital, but the brand, touted in advertisements for “machines for information,” has been eclipsed in the information age. It’s a surprise, then, to see reports of an Olivetti tablet computer in the works. According to Technology Review, the OliPad will run Android and be priced around $400.

Today, Olivetti’s product line is geared towards the European business market; the brand is ubiquitous, if mostly undistinguished, running the gamut from interactive whiteboards to scanners to postal scales. The company also seeks a footprint in enterprise software with Olivetti Application Warehouse, an app-store like market for business applications.

Unfortunately, images at Italian tech blogs of a product called the OliPad 70 are not promising, but the relationship between the putative OliPad and the device exhibited at trade shows isn’t clear. Whether the glamor of the tablet market will induce Olivetti to call up its grand design tradition remains to be seen.

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