What The Fuck Is Wrong With HP (and Everyone Else)

HP is a company I have always loved, whose products are well engineered and who have some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley. So just what has got into HP and all the other computer makers, except Apple?

The recent news that HP has dropped the TouchPad a month after the US release and four days after the Australian one, the effective dropping of WebOS and the plans to follow IBM into a software and service future by offloading their PC business has amazed so many, me included.

If you believe the commentary going on, part of the blame is that companies like HP have very low profit margins on PC gear, whereas Apple does much better. And this might be the reason, but, if it is, no one has learned the proper lesson from this. I even read an article today saying that the right price for a tablet was US$300. And HP has sold well when dumping the TouchPad at very low prices. Now at this time the cheapest iPad 2 is US$499 and $579 here in Australia, and they seem to be selling all they can make. So something doesn’t add up here.

Historically Apple gear has always been more expensive than the competition. The iPod was more expensive than other MP3 players, the iPhone is more expensive than most other smartphones and the iPad is also more expensive than most tablets, including the HP one. The Macbook Air is likewise not overly cheap, and Macbook Pros, iMacs and PowerMacs are more expensive than superficially equivalent systems. Yet people buy them.

Apple has shown that people will pay more for superb design and excellent functionality. Apple has also shown a willingness to stick it out until products get accepted, as has happened with the Air. It was not always popular.

Yes, there is a very large part of the computer market that is extremely price sensitive, as shown by the run on TouchPads at $100 or so, but Apple’s experience has shown that there is a large segment that is not so price sensitive. Perhaps it would be better to say that there are customers for whom price is at or near the top of their priority list, and other customers for whom price is less critical and other factors count more.

Apple is not very reactive: it creates and makes other companies react to it. And any student of military history knows that you don’t win by giving your enemy the initiative. You must seize the initiative and make them react to you, and keep them doing so.

Oh what you could do with a company like HP and all that engineering experience. Rather than creating iPad wannabees, no matter how well they may be made, and undercutting on price, what about taking the opportunity to ‘Think Differently’ and do something unique, even if it takes several years for it to really catch on? Surely both shareholders and employees of HP should get the opportunity for some real benefit from the $1.2 billion spent all too recently on Palm?

We know that even an overpriced item will, due to Moore’s Law, come down in price as you get economies of scale and improvements in technology. So what about creating a truly drool-worthy tablet, laptop or some new category of device, even if the initial price will be US$1,000? Even if the production yields are quite low to start with it may not matter, as demand will be slow to start with. But as demand grows in line with better yields and lowering prices you have taken the initiative and others now have to react to you.

And beyond HP, what about all the other computer makers, phone makers and consumer electronics companies? All seem happy to innovate in little ways, a tweak here; a new feature there. Who is innovating anymore? Has the computer industry gone the way of Hollywood and will only rework old concepts or crank out more of the same in working franchises?

Apple has shown that you do not have to be the first in an area to win big. Apple didn’t release the first MP3 player or the first tablet. But they did release the best when they did. Let us be honest: the iPod is the best MP3 player, the iPhone is the best smartphone and the iPad is the best tablet, at present. Don’t let the annoyances that everyone feels with some of Apple’s policies and decisions get in the way of that realisation. Apple is the only real player in town and everyone else is following them.

How has Apple done what they have done? Two things. Stunning design for one. Secondly, they have taken all concepts to the extreme. The iPod eliminated almost all the buttons. The iPhone eliminated the keyboard and elevated the app to front and centre. The iPad also eliminated the keyboard completely, something many other tablet makers had tried to hang onto.

Apple has done some other things right too. Controlling both the hardware and software is a huge advantage. Though the gatekeeper role is annoying when apps that you really should be able to get are not approved, the controlled app environment for iPods, iPhones and iPads means that all the fear around malware is gone. And among less tech happy people fear is a BIG factor that holds them back from adopting new technology. I know many people who would never have bought another device, but have gone out and bought an iPhone or iPad and are buying and installing apps happily. Those same people would never have done that with Windows or Android.

It saddens me greatly to see an amazing company like HP walking away from an industry it helped found. Maybe the problem for HP is they have too many engineers and not enough dreamers. Because that is exactly what we need: dreamers in companies with the size and expertise to turn those dreams into reality.

 

Great article on using tablets as design tools

I came across this great article on Smashing Magazine on using tablets as a design tool, for sketching ideas and working with clients. It includes a great review of the pens available to use with the iPad. It could be quite relevant to photographers as well. After all, we have ideas too sometimes, don’t we? Good article, worth a read.

The Epson B-510DN Inkjet Printer is a Winner

The B-510DN is a business printer, A4 or letter sized and very useful for photographers as well.

This is a four-colour printer, so it is not one that photographers would naturally consider. However a photography studio or even a hobbyist at home has need for the following:

  • A fast printer for general printing tasks;
  • Good enough photo printing;
  • Reduced ink costs.

Let’s be honest, all the printer manufacturers punish you senseless on printer running costs, and the cheaper the printer the more you know you are going to be bled for ink down the track.

This is one area where the B-510DN is different. Aimed at businesses with high volumes of use, it is certainly not a cheap printer to buy, but the ink cartridges are huge and last a truly amazing period of time. Ink costs can be as low as 4.2 cents per colour page, which is excellent and seemingly about half that of the nearest competition.

It is also a phenomenally fast printer, whether doing normal documents or photo printing. It is quiet while running and has no odour, unlike some laser printers. Colour pages print at up to 18ppm for text and draft BW printing at 37ppm. I didn’t time the full-page photo printing but it was faster than anything else I have ever seen in my studio.

The print quality is nothing less than amazing. Sure photos show the dots but it is far from objectionable, rather giving a very fine texture to an image and is really only noticeable in comparison with images printed on a high end dedicated photo printer with six or eight inks. We printed on all types of paper and loved the results on heavy fine art matt papers. Colour was spot on.

Paper handling is excellent. We experienced no paper jams and the combination of a huge capacity tray for 500 sheets and a top slot that holds 150 plain paper or less in thick photo paper is perfect for a studio situation. I saved two configurations in the printer driver of choosing paper source and type of paper and this allowed quick and error free printing on the right type of paper.

To be honest there is nothing not to like about this printer. It handled thick art papers well (up to 256gsm) and had excellent print quality on a range of plain papers.

This printer is very highly recommended and will be up for consideration for purchase as a general studio printer. It uses DURABrite Ultra pigment inks.

It would suit any photographer or designer who needs to print A4 paper and wants to keep their running costs down. It would also suit event photographers, as its speed of printing would solve a lot of problems for them.

Very highly recommended.

A Good Way to Add to Your Business

UK photographer and graphic designer David Springford now has three websites to his business, one on his graphic design, one for his photography and a new one for a line of tee-shirts with his designs printed on them, many of which have a photographic theme. The tee-shirt site, called eyetees, has a great design and looks good. The designs are interesting and different, just what you want in the tee-shirt market. It also illustrates the principle that smart business practice is to make as much use of your talent as possible and create diverse streams of income. Continue reading “A Good Way to Add to Your Business”

Adobe Creative Suite 4 ROI Study Shows Productivity as New “Killer Feature”

Tests Confirm CS4 Users Can Save Thousands of Dollars Through Productivity Gains in Everyday Tasks

Adobe today announced benchmarking results from an independent research study conducted by Pfeiffer Consulting and commissioned by Adobe. According to the report, features in Adobe Creative Suite 4 software can dramatically increase productivity, efficiency and return on investment. Research shows that every unnecessary click has the ability to slow down users’ productivity.  Routine operations across Adobe Creative Suite 4 can be accomplished more quickly now than with previous versions, dramatically improving the user experience and saving hours every month. Users can now dedicate more time to the creative side of the project with this latest version of the Creative Suite product line. More than 100 benchmark tests focusing on design (http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/design/), print, digital imaging (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family/), Web (http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/web/) and interactive design, and video production (http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/production/)  were conducted. Tests covered workflow-related productivity measures as well as market-specific design and publishing activities. Continue reading “Adobe Creative Suite 4 ROI Study Shows Productivity as New “Killer Feature””

Web Strategy 101 for Creatives (Part 4) – Website Security

DIMi recently was hacked. It was an interesting experience, and, as always, we learned a lot from the experience.

Hacking of sites is on the rise and there is reportedly a substantial increase in recent times, which is likely to continue. As NASA, various governments and large corporations have discovered, there is no such thing as a completely secure website. If it is visible, it is vulnerable. Continue reading “Web Strategy 101 for Creatives (Part 4) – Website Security”

THE CREATE AWARDS 2007 REVEALS WINNERS SHOWCASE

The highly anticipated Winners Showcase goes live on www.thecreateawards.com the same week.
Press Release

Create Magazine is proud to announce the Winners Showcase for The Create Awards 2007 hits newsstands – in all five regional editions of the NOV+DEC issue of Create – on Nov. 12th. The highly anticipated Winners Showcase goes live on www.thecreateawards.com the same week.
 
“The amount of entries we received this year was phenomenal…the wide range of talent and diversity in this year’s submissions from across the globe made the contest highly competitive,” said Jerry Brown, President of Create Communications and Publisher/Founder of Create Magazine and The Create Awards.
 
“It’s only fitting we reward such talent with national exposure in both our print publication and online, and provide prizes they can actually use in their creative jobs,” Brown added.
 
Out of the 2,400 pieces entered, only 235 received awards such as Silver and Gold Awards, Best of Category, Best of Student, eight (8) Best of Industry Prize Packages totaling $2,500 worth of prizes each, and the coveted $30,000 Best of Show Dream Studio Prize Package.

The Best of Show piece is a film+video entry titled “The Art of Science” by Eyeplay TV. “WAITING ON QUOTE from DAVE”

This year’s entries spanned across the globe, and were judged by 20 leading professionals in the eight creative industries.

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The Create Awards
The Create Awards is one of the top competitions for working creative professionals across the nation and is open to all creative professionals and students working in advertising, film and video, motion graphics, graphic communication, photography, printing, interactive media, and copywriting. The competition spans eight industries and includes more than 300 categories. www.thecreateawards.com

About Create Magazine
Create Magazine’s mission is to inform, connect, inspire and educate creative professionals. First published in 2001, Create Magazine is an award-winning, bimonthly creative industry magazine published for those who produce or require creative services and products. As a networking resource, Create Magazine provides an insider’s perspective on the people, news, trends and events that influence both local and national advertising and creative production industries. With five regional editions nationwide, each issue features articles by local community leaders who are the trusted source for information and commentary on the Advertising, Design, Printing, Photography, Film and Video, Animation and New Media industries, in addition to national content from industry experts. To find out more, visit Create Magazine online at createmagazine.com.

New Community for Character Designers

An online space for artists to display their work to a global audience of character art lovers
If you are into character design there is a new web site and community at http://www.mojizu.com

The site is free to join and provides profiles of character designers plus you can showcase your own designs there.