Monday, November 07, 2005

What is HP Thinking?

Imagine for a moment that you had a product that was innovative and unique in a market comprised largely of products that were all essentially timid me-too offerings. Imagine that your product had garnered a substantial share of the market because of its these qualities, and that it had a user base that bordered on the fanatic in their support and enthusiasm for your product. Would you throw that product away in favor of yet another me-too product line?

Most of us would laugh at the suggestion, yet it appears that this is precisely what HP is doing with the TC1100. While originally the word was that the TC1100 would cease production at the end of 2005, apparently production has already ceased and the channel is drying up. Their other offering, the TC4200 is a fine machine, no question. But it is also just another convertible notebook with a digitizer in the screen. Cheap? Sure. Nice keyboard? No doubt. (Though Thinkpads still rule this area.) Great screen? Yep. Flexible? Not very. Exciting? No way.

This is a move that I simply don't understand.

But not only is HP making this huge mistake, they have compounded it with poor communication. For a long time, there was no more than a rumor that this was going to happen. Now I admit that I am not very well connected at HP, but no one I could reach there would make a clear statement on the subject until recently. (I have been dogging this since mid-summer.) When I asked one HP representative whether the TC1100 was going to be discontinued, the only response I got was that "HP remains committed to the Tablet PC platform." A pretty non-committal non-answer. Which, I guess, was telling in itself if I had been willing to see it.

Since that time, HP has confirmed that the TC1100 is history. But in addition, my sources tell me that there is a new model coming out around the start of Q2 2006. It looks as if it will weigh about 3 pounds and have a 12" screen. There is no more information available than that. They can't even say if it is a slate, a convertible or, we can only hope, a hybrid. If so, I'll gladly wear egg on my face for this posting. (Well, part of it. They still screwed up in the way they handled it.)

I don't want this posting to become a rant or, worse, a whine so I won't go on with it. But Mr. Hurd, if you are listening, this is one decision that HP needs to reconsider. The TC1100 is not perfect, but it is terrific. Tweak it, don't kill it. I'll be glad to give you suggestions on what is needed. Better yet, ask in the Tablet PC Buzz HP forum, the most active forum on the most active Tablet PC site--all because of the TC1100.

12 Comments:

Blogger Slick Rick said...

i think they should keep making the tc1100. even though personally i dont like them i see their advantages in a learning environment. i would rather have a convertible with cd/dvd drives and what not but thats just because i like to have everything in one place. The tc1100 is nice because it isn't that heavey and its still pretty dunctional. I think that htey could definitely make it better. I think I should be the one designing these things.......

9:50 AM  
Blogger Rob Bushway said...

Great post, Mark.

The decision is puzzling to me, especially when you consider the great following the TC1100 has. It is clear, though, that HP felt they were losing market share to the convertible manufacturers; and to keep up, they had to throw their support behind what they feel the mass market is demanding.

I bet it is a 12" highly portable convertible.

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agee with you. I use my TC1100 in a very active business setting and I appreciate the hybrid capability more than many others. Hate to see it go, but I guess HP doesn't care if my next tablet is from Motion!

Travis Carnahan
posted on a TC1100!

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/compaq_tablet/

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Wilcox said...

I have had TC1100 for two years. There is no comparable Tablet PC on the market. I have just installed Vista on one. The handwriting recognition is great. I am using it to write this.

The only downside is a few crucial for me things do not work. The SD card reader is a well known non-functioning item but my Vodafone PCMCIA card fails to be seen by the software as well.

Vista did not fix a problem ( I also had with XP) high CPU usage when idling and 80-90% usage when the pen or house traverses the screen but this is only a Mindjet MindManager problem.

So I have bought TC4400 to see if it is any better!

What really want is a TC1400!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey if you tc1100 is gone let me introduce i hope it's successor the OpenBook.

Check this out www.obook.info

11:48 AM  
Blogger east coast said...

Obook is nothing like a TC1100. It is a shame that the TC is gone even as I write this post on one. A fantastic machine.

6:47 PM  
Blogger gfh said...

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3:35 AM  
Blogger xenobiologista said...

One of the more obscure advantages of the TC1100 is that it was aimed at the healthcare market, so the slate part (sans keyboard) can be wiped down with disinfectant without hurting anything. I only found out about this by browsing through the support documentation, it's the one titled "Cleaning Guidelines". Most people might not care about this, but I work in a lab with viruses so it's nice to be able to take to work =)

12:10 PM  
Blogger 2D said...

xenobiologista, you've made a great point about the TC1100. (I still have mine though it is no longer my daily machine.) That's another great reason for it in schools as well.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

(just discovered this article... years later)
I own a TC4400. It's great, except that it's a little heavy to carry for long, and it gets hot. plus battery life isn't great.
I don't want to get an iPad. And upon hearing of the HP Slate cancellation, I'm actually thinking of buying a TC1100 off ebay.
It's kind of sad that the best product I can find is one that was discontinued 5 years ago.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Sources said...

Great tablet! I love using this incredible device
---------------
Test & Keep a Free HP slate

10:16 AM  

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