2/9/11

Quick Thoughts on the HP Announcement

I like the products, I don't like the event.


What's impressive

I like the devices.  I am disappointed that the tablet doesn't have a stylus, but HP is clearly going for the media player space, and it's a worthy competitor there.  The Android tablets and PlayBook start to look kind of weak in comparison.

I like the idea of a smaller smartphone.  It's something Apple should have done with iPhone.  (It did the same thing very successfully with iPod; why not iPhone?)

I like the integration between the phones and tablets. That's a smart move.  The more HP can make this a competition of product families, the more of a disadvantage the Android cloners will be at.

I like the apparent attention to detail in all of the products.  As you'd expect from a team headed by a former Apple guy, HP/Palm understands hardware-software integration and how to make a product feel good to use.  Even if you never buy one of the HP products, you'll benefit from what it's doing because HP is challenging everyone else in the industry to step up their design and integration skills.  Samsung and Lenovo, take note.

And I love the idea of putting this same OS on personal computers.  It's bold, it's scary, it's...uh, it makes HP look a lot like Apple.  Maybe instead of "Think Beyond" they should have called the event "Think Similar."

And how ironic that HP is moving toward having its own OS just as Nokia is moving toward (reportedly) running someone else's.


What's not impressive

I disagree strongly with the timing and content of the announcement.  I am not talking about the length of it.  Yeah, they went too long, but it's not a big deal in the ultimate scheme of things.  I think there's a much deeper problem here.  Good marketing is like a fan dance -- you don't reveal as much as people think you do, and you always leave them wanting a bit more.  HP built up the expectation that its new products would be available immediately, and then announced stuff that will ship sometime in summer, if not later.  We don't even know prices yet.  This gives competitors a huge amount of time to react, and more importantly the products themselves are going to seem old by the time they ship.

This isn't a fatal mistake, but I think it would have been far more effective if HP had discussed the products only in a "secret" event for developers.  The news still would have leaked, but rather than being disappointed we would have been tantalized and eager to hear more in the months to come.

HP may be developing products more like Apple, but it's still marketing like HP.

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