|Shrinking markets - or - where did all the calculators go?|
Message #10 Posted by Randy Sloyer on 21 May 2004, 10:55 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Ron Ross
I have read here many times that all HP has to do is come up with some silk-screens and some different keytops to re-issue some of the old classics. Yes, okay, so I overstate and oversimplify. Yes, there have been some good, detailed and thought provoking treatments here. I'm not taking issue with good, clear and IMO sometimes wishful thinking.
But, consider this when thinking it would be easy to re-issue your [insert favorite model here] calculator:
** The Source Code ** aka ** Microcode ** aka ** Thousands of man years of software engineering **.
From all reports, it's gone, as in dropped into the dumpsters in Corvalis and ACO.
How to you re-issue a classic when you have to start over with the only reference being an operators manual? That's how Kinpo did the 33S. Ask yourself this question: If they had it, why does the 12CP behave so differently from it's ancestor? And the 33S? It's not a port, it's a re-write from scratch, not a Saturn emulation running the original 32Sii code. After all, it took almost two years from the time HP started saying the 32Sii replacement was on the way to the time it arrived. That was sure more effort than new artwork and keytops.
Before we all start drooling over the prospects of a 43S and a 15CP, lets remember there more to it than just tweaking some hardware. I'm not trying to be Chicken Little but if it were that easy, I think they would have done it by now, no matter how few they thought they might sell.
Just my 0.02¢ worth on another topic:
The theory the 42S was killed off because it cannibalized the more profitable 48 sales: I used to think it was the case, anymore, I'm not so sure. In the early nineties, connectivity was becoming an issue. Computers were everywhere. Spreadsheets were doing a lot of number crunching. If I had been in the market for a new machine in 1992, would I have picked the 48G over a 42S? Probably. It was the gadget of the day. The newest, the bestest. The 42S didn't have input ability and there was no room for serial i/o from a hardware standpoint. If I had lost my 42S back then, what would I have done? I can't honestly answer the question because I didn't need another calculator. My pile of HP's at the time was a daily use 42S, a 25C that always seemed to have dead batteries and a 16C to balance the checkbook at home. We'll never know what the sales figures were, but with the 32Sii selling well at the bottom end and the 48GX covering the top end, why maintain so many models? That same 42S is still on my desk. Would I buy a 43S if it came out tomorrow? Probably not. It's not that I'm assuming it would be uglier than the 33S - it's just that I don't need it. For most, it's a tool. Once you have a good lawn mower (assumes you have a lawn), do you need another? You can only use one at a time. Where do the new unit sales come from? Certainly not the 7th grade algebra students out there.
Here's a statistic I'd like to see:
In the total population of HP RPN scientific calculator users out there today, how many know that that they cannot go out and buy an exact model replacement for the machine they use everyday? Assume it is an LCD model after the 41 series.
I'll bet it's less than 25% of the users. That's 3 out of 4 owners living blissfully in the lack of knowledge that their favorite number juggler is long ago out of production. Until they break or loose what they currently own, why would they buy something new?
Until there is a new generation out there that want RPN handhelds, where is the market? Replacements for exsisting users? That's a contracting, not expanding market.
So maybe the MBA types are right after all...