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What do you think about it?
Message #1 Posted by Victor Carreon on 20 Sept 2000, 11:08 p.m.

This is a comment from a TI discussion group supported by TI

---The document in my topic line is found here: This is a big PDF file - 66 pages. If you have any interest at all in high-end graphing calculators, HP, and TI, this is definitely worth reading.

After reading this, my first thought was 'why, in the world, would anyone want to buy an HP calculator any more?---'

What do you think about the file? I have an HP42S, HP28S, HP49G, TI92Plus, and I had been planning to buy the New HP Expander, but know I'm very disappointed. Victor Carreon

Re: What do you think about it?
Message #2 Posted by Glynn on 21 Sept 2000, 6:25 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Victor Carreon

Victor, I have read it, and agree with much of it.

Still, you gotta know what you can change, and what you can't. Then, you need to make the changes you can, and face the changes as they come from elsewhere.

In saying this, I know I'll step on a few toes I should much like to spare. I should like VERY much for the campaign as expressed in that Plan to be the catalyst for some real changes that would awaken the sleeping giant that is HP, and set them about making calculator products we all could BELIEVE in again, stake our futures on.

But I feel that, as a user, I am better off sticking with the tools I have, taking good care of them, and not relying on HP to gain the good sense that report is striving to impart to them.

And keeping on the lookout, by the way, for the new products, from whatever source, that meet MY specific needs and desires.

HP's ACO is going about doing what they believe is in their best interests, as Chris Wallin's reply indicates. Richard Nelson et al (some stellar folk in there) are being very helpful in looking to redirect HP strategy for HP's own good. But HP alone has to determine if it meets their own corporate goals and vision.

We, as consumers of new calc products, must go to whomever has the tool that fits us and our jobs. No matter how good HP was in the past, no one can rest on cushy laurels forever.

If HP loses us in the process of learning this lesson, it may well be that the calc division will die, or be subsumed into the Mobile Computing division, or whatever. Or it may play second-fiddle and catch-up to TI and Casio forever. But everyone has the right to be wrong, even HP.

I was at my local grocery-chain today, where they have a stack of new boxed HP ink-jet printers in the middle of the front aisle. They are throw-away ($79) translucent-blue and beige consumer impulse-purchase items at this Albertson's. Obviously, you go to the store to pick up your milk, bread, some lunch-meat, and oh yes, a spiffy new printer.

You think the current HP corporate culture emphasizes growth in innovation, reputation and prestige, or growth in sheer quantity sold?

I can tell you stories I hear of HP's latest Vectra PC offerings, and they aren't terribly different than the support, expansion and compatibility woes you hear from Compaq or Dell customers. So are HP defining themselves in the market by being superior, or by being mainly price "competitive" and brand-brazen? The latter, I find.

(Okay, plus the Vectras are reeeally plug-UGLY; there, I feel better now).

R Nelson's original premise that says (translating loosely) that HP's ACO would be better off sticking to a niche it can secure firmly and with passion, rather than releasing products to "cover" all the perceived competition at every price-point, in my opinion, hits the nail precisely on the head.

Good advice for a lover to give his errant wandering spouse. But the lessons of fidelity are hard to teach a roamer engaged in seeking satisfactions from all quarters.

So much for HP and their business practices and market strategies. They will do what they will do.

What about the loyal customers? Don't we have a say? YES-- we say it when we buy a product that suits us better than whatever some one company is willing to offer. That's it: our total recourse.

No matter how loyal we have been, no matter how well the company USED to be run, back in the days when engineers had the helm: the only sound a company as large as HP ever HEARS is the roar within.

If it is from accountants, or stock-holders, or managers with tenure, the sound can be quite breathtaking. A cash-register can jingle pretty enough to catch someone's attention-- a Wal-Mart or Sears can give management a start... but a set of letters of complaint from a small cadre of dedicated company followers, explaining the marketing mis-cues and product and support deficiencies of the division, is a whisper that does not come close to rising above the din.

Companies are NOT democracies, and will NEVER be run from without. It might well be wise sometimes if they WERE, but then they would not be a company, but a collective.

Sometimes a company expresses a willingness to listen to its base of consumers, as HP has on occasion. But ultimately, market surveys of quantitative satisfaction are all that matter; and "you can file that strategic plan of yours for us into that receptacle on your way out, thank you very much. We have our own."

I think the world of Richard Nelson, of Jake Schwartz, Joseph Horn and Jim Carter and all that crew, though I know them only by their solid reputations and some website views into their thoughts and activities. They are, without doubt, the lifeblood of an active user and developer community, something essential to us all and well worth listening to, whatever they are saying.

What they ARE saying is so profound, it seems impossible to some that HP would not listen and HEED it. I do not mock or wish to belittle the tremendous efforts they are making. I hope HP management is not nearly so thick-walled that a germ of their ideas cannot penetrate into HP's thinking.

But there must be some point at which the jilted look at all the evidence, after waiting for so long now, and say: "I must move on and find my own fulfillment, for no amount of wishing, hoping, lecturing or patience is going to make my mate appreciate me, or care". And I am afraid we HP-lovers are reaching that point; I think the rather unusual effort put into the report only reflects that roiling disappointment and despair.

Part of the sense of loss we are feeling is the notion that as HP goes, so goes RPN and professional hand-calculator (button-function correlated) tools in general. God knows I have no clue what is solely the property of HP and no one else, but those two particulars seem safely public-domain anyway. If the case can be made that HP could profit by staying in that business, and HP does not choose to, there is room for competition. That may develop, in time.

Meanwhile, I am always on the lookout for used HPs that can satisfy my needs. That is why I am here at MoHPC-- to learn and to love what I know is worthy of the emotional investment.

Ummm, "what do you think about it" was sort of an incitement. Sorry for the rant.

Re: What do you think about it?
Message #3 Posted by Wayne Brown on 21 Sept 2000, 9:33 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Glynn

I, for one, agree with you 100%. As much as I want to see HP return to its glory days of caring more about quality than profits, I'm beginning to think those days are gone forever. Joe Horn posted a message on comp.sys.hp48 recently about the HHC2000 conference that was held a couple of weeks ago. He said that at last year's conference, HP insisted that the users be brutally honest about anything that bothered them. The document you cited was one of the results of that. And at this year's conference, HP didn't show up. They didn't even bother to offer an explanation for their absence. Joe thinks the "Marketing Plan" may have been the reason (or at least, one of the reasons) for this. Apparently when HP said, "Be honest with us," they really meant, "Tell us what a great job we're doing." It's a real shame when people like Richard, Joe, and the other people involved with HHC2000 get that kind of treatment from a company for which they've done so much.

BTW, I think Richard would be absolutely perfect for the "technical support czar" job that he proposed in his plan. But somehow I doubt we'll ever again see that level of support from HP for any of their products.

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