|Re: It has nothing to do with China|
Message #28 Posted by Howard Owen on 18 Sept 2011, 3:16 p.m.,
in response to message #24 by Katie Wasserman
I recall that, after the flashable 12C came out, an argument for bringing back the 15C was that producing it would be much cheaper because the 12C PCB could be used, and because the documentation wouldn't have to be changed. Now that the 15C LE has arrived, I notice some interesting things about price and production. It seems to me that producing 10K units of anything in consumer electronics is pretty remarkable. That's a very small stock to try to make any sort of profit on. Selling those units wholesale for something less than $80.00 (based on the early street prices) makes it even more astonishing. The total theoretical upside is something less than 800K bucks, and a realistic estimate is no doubt substantially lower. What does it cost to design and implement an emulator, redesign and implement a replica keyboard, pay setup and production costs, (hopefully reduced, but certainly not nil,) transportation costs and marketing costs? (What else? I bet I've missed a few.)
The only way I can imagine this project could have been sold inside HP would be something like this: "This machine will be cheaper to produce than a new calculator. A limited run has a chance of selling out, based on the market research. The slight profit in this proposal has to be seen in the light of creating good will with our most ardent fans. That represents marketing value of (fill in guesstimate dressed up as fact.) Oh, and it might actually take off with general users, though we aren't counting on that." OK, so maybe HP's most ardent fans are also their most severe critics, but I'm sure that wasn't a featured item in the proposal.
With a shoestring budget, problems are more likely to occur. With a shoestring budget, fixes for those problems will be harder to sell internally. The keyboard problems don't seem to be (that) widespread. We now have a 15C body that actually isn't too bad. As to the firmware problems, the 15C LE is flashable. We can build replacement firmware. That won't help the average user, but the 15C LE isn't aimed at them, it's aimed at us! The 15C LE will never be as big a dud as the 35s, because the really unforgivable problems with that machine are firmware bugs - in a machine that can't be reflashed.
I am pleased as punch with my 2 units. Neither one is a 12C under the hood, and neither one has poorly registering keys. I think the census thread will show that a majority of units received by forum members are in that category. In any event, I'll leave it to the stat-heads to tell me whether we represent a valid sample for purposes of estimating the overall defect rate of this machine. Intuitively I'd guess we aren't, but I don't have a good head for statistics. :)