This week while in Shanghai I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Stacy Wolff, Vice President of Design at HP about the design aspects of the new range of machines from HP, I got to ask about Tablets PCs, Ultrabooks and Stacey also talked about HP’s approach to Windows 8.
My first question was about tablet PCs:
ID: There was a period of lots of developments with form factors like the detachable keyboard on the TC1100 or the swivel display on 2710p tablet PCs , but now there doesn’t seem to be anything new. It’s all just clam shells, what do you think is the reason for that?
Stacey Wolff: I think what you see is new technologies and form factors are driven by a change in the system, or a technology shift. An example would be Windows 8, it’s going to be a component where touch is now becoming a part of your life, especially at the consumer level. You will see business saying on Windows 7 for many years to come but if you think about the consumer your life is going to change after this holiday season [when Windows 8 is expect to launch], life before Windows 8 and life after Windows 8 and I think touch is going to be a component of that.
When that happens we are going to see a number of new form factors that take advantage of touch. The reason you see momentum on the earlier form factors was driven by pen technology [talking about Tablet PCs] at that time there was a lot of focus in the Microsoft world about pen being the new input, in fact we still sell the 27 series tablet PCs but it tends to go to vertical markets but for the average consumer it’s an input that is no longer part of their life. I think for the most part their life is on the go and they need something as light as feather that fits in their backpack. Thinking of the last two years where we sold the Mini Netbook transformed how we look at the mobile arena. I think that occupied a lot of interest but I think with Windows 8 you will see a lot of new form factors.
ID: Regarding Netbooks, we are not seeing them sell like they did a couple of years ago so what is filling that void with the low cost price point?
SW: What your seeing is technology is always in compression, what starts out at hight end comes to the low end, in 2006 we devoted we developed IMR (In Mold Rolling) which is considered a premium finish before that it was just plastic. As you fast forward 4 years it has gone from a product sold at $2000 and is now on a device at $299. The price of materials has come down, I am thinking about hard drives and displays and all these things you need to make a PC, their prices have come down so that gives us new opportunities to develop products which are ideal for the emerging markets. The Netbooks filled a gap for a short period, what we are seeing now is full size PCs well within the reach of the Netbook price point.
ID How will windows 8 effect the desktop PC market?
SW: We are seeing the all in ones that we are developing will take advantage of windows 8 and as technology shifts from a desktop type interface to one that is now more touch related. I think your going to see more touch based systems. I think the other thing too is space efficiency and cost of components means we are seeing more and more the ability to go from a tower system and pack all the components in to an all in one system. Windows 8 is an interface that allows lots of types of input, in some cases I will use the touch screen, I may use the touch pad or I may use a mouse.
ID: What was the reason for going for the lower screen resolution for the Spectre XT Ultrabook 1366 x 768 when it’s a premium product?
SW: The product has to reach a lower price point than some others in the market and that resolution is appropriate for the price point, but it doesn’t mean we won’t have higher resolutions in the future.
ID: So where does HP go from here?
You going to see us continue DNA of the products launched this year, we have a heritage of breakthrough designs and we bring that to new models and new form factors influenced by Windows 8.
Thanks to Stacey for his time.