Justin Scheck reports for The Wall Street Journal, “On the heels of Apple’s ballyhooed iPad launch it was rival Hewlett-Packard’s turn to try generating interest in a non-traditional portable computer.”
MacDailyNews Take: HP has been trying to generate interest in non-traditional portable computers, tablets specifically, for six and a half years. Now, that Apple’s shown them they way, HP’s promo videos are rolling out to YouTube at breakneck pace. Apple leads. HP, Microsoft, et al. follow. As usual.
Scheck reports, “The gadget, which looks a lot like an iPad, has received a share of the tablet buzz since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer brandished a prototype during a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. H-P has been touting the product as an example of the company’s ability to innovate.”
MacDailyNews Take: Imagining being a fly on the wall at an HP planning meeting:
HP Exec. 1: Apple’s announcement is coming next week and it’s a real product!
HP Exec. 2: Relax. I know you’re new, so here’s the deal: Ballmer will trot out a mockup, flash it around onstage briefly, and describe it very nebulously while we wait for Apple’s demo, specs and features. Then, we’ll identify what we think are weak spots and throw them all into our device. Blind ’em with spec lists, as usual. You and I know that Apple has carefully considered every port, option, and millimeter and that Apple’s software is designed expressly for the device and ours will be off-the-shelf, shoehorned in, but our customers don’t understand that. iMac didn’t have a floppy, but ours did… Uh, maybe that’s a bad example, sales-wise. Anyway, if they don’t have a camera, we’ll give ’em two. If they don’t have a USB port, we’ll throw one on. If they don’t have a stylus, we’ll need one, so talk it up as an advantage; put three in the box, too – whatever they don’t have, we’ll offer. And, the beauty of this Ballmer mockup thing is: We can say we were first; how we “lead in slate PCs!” We’ll go with an aluminum look for the mock up, but, if it ends up being too far off, we’ll change it later based on Apple’s exterior look. We’ll say we always planned it that way.
HP Exec. 1: But, Apple had reasons for leaving things out. Increased complexity for the user and support, network congestion, redundant I/O, old tech, won’t really be used enough, battery life, etc.
HP Exec. 2: Yes, you and I know that, but the customers don’t. And some of these bloggers really, really love making side-by-side checklists of features. We’ll win those, even with an inferior product. This is how we counter Apple’s superior multi-touch OS and its close integration with the device’s hardware. We can’t compete with that, but we can make the outside look like almost just like Apple’s and then load it up with stuff to “win” the spec checklist battles! A “touchscreen” = a “touchscreen” to your average buyer; they don’t know how much better Apple’s is – it’s, uh, it’s just like the iPhone vs. Android touchscreen quality and accuracy; world’s apart in use but exactly the same on a Best Buy placard.
HP Exec. 1:Awesome.
HP Exec. 2:(laughs) Now, we’ll keep margins in range by shaving a bit off the screen size – close enough will work – and we’ll try to come as close as we can to battery life, but we are saddled with Intel’s POS Atom and Microsoft’s POS OS, so we’ll have to downplay battery life thing. We’ll probably be able to pump a higher GHz number, though – you’d be surprised how many fall for that one still. An inferior, slower processor with a higher GHz number always beats the superior, faster processor in focus groups! It’s bigger, so it must be better – never underestimate the stupidity of the average consumer. Also, we should be able to beat Apple on price; if not, I’ll be shocked. Whatever Apple isn’t pointing their device towards, we’ll talk up in our marketing, include a nice talking points list with review units; the usual drill. “Our HP Slate offers the total mobile experience. We’ve left nothing out.” That sort of thing. Put some nice, slick teaser vids up on YouTube. Orchestrate feature and price leaks. All that stuff. We’ll move a bunch of units this way.
HP Exec. 1: But, won’t that result in unsatisfied customers vs. those using Apple’s device?
HP Exec. 2: No. Because they won’t try an iPad to give it a chance even if it’s stuck right in front of their faces. After they’ve dropped $500, $600, or whatever for our slate, most will be too invested emotionally, and some, financially, to allow themselves to admit they made the wrong choice. Anyway, they won’t even know they’re unsatisfied – just like Windows-only PC, Android, and BlackBerry users. Trust me, we know this works. Just don’t mention the mobile apps. Never, ever mention the mobile apps.
HP Exec. 1: I get it now. Hey, this is going to be great! (Not as great as working at Apple, but they rejected my application, so…)
HP Exec. 2: HP. Invent. (winks)
Scheck continues, “In February, for example, an H-P spokeswoman noted that H-P has ‘led in slates’ having publicly discussed such products since 2002. One key difference between H-P’s slate and the iPad, of course, is that the iPad is available in stores around the country, while the Slate still isn’t for sale. H-P says the slate will be available later this year, but a spokesman said Monday that the company isn’t ready to reveal the price, technical features or sale date of the product. In the meantime, consumers will have to satisfy themselves with the 30-second video.”
Direct link to video via YouTube here.
Scheck reports, “It indicates, among other things, numerous similarities with the iPad, including a touch screen and software that allows users to flip through pages of electronic books, move pictures and other images around and play videos. But the video and the blog posting introducing it also tacitly call attention to some gaps in the iPad, such as the lack of a video camera. Besides a camera, the slate also has a card slot for importing photos from an external camera–another feature not found on iPads. The H-P device, the company suggests, offers a ‘full’ and ‘holistic’ mobile experience, not just for consuming digital media but creating it, too.”
Full article here.
Electronista reports, “The HP slate’s battery will last half as long as the iPad’s, a leaked presentation showed on Monday. Since it will use a year-old [Intel] 1.6GHz Atom processor, the Windows 7 tablet will run for five hours where the ARM-powered Apple device will last for at least 10 hours. The edge, Engadget has learned, would come even despite the HP tablet’s smaller and lower resolution 8.9-inch, 1024×600 screen.”
“Cost would also be an issue. An HP slate should cost less for 32GB of storage, at $549 versus $599, but Apple will still carry the price advantage at $499. A 64GB HP model would be the best value at $599,” Electronista reports. “Most of HP’s advantage should come from expansion and limited HD support. [Plus] it should have a single USB port but will also carry an SDXC card reader, HDMI, a 3-megapixel back camera and a VGA front camera for video chats. Pen support is cited as an advantage, although the iPad can support capacitive touch pens of its own.”
Full article here.