HP, the world's largest PC manufacturer, rolled out 50 new products on Tuesday at a conference in Berlin, the largest such product refresh in the Personal Systems Group's history.
The company added new touches to just about all the group's products, freshening up its TouchSmart all-in-one desktop, commercial and consumer notebook lines, as well as two machines within its high-end gaming brand, VoodooPC.
While June is not the usual time of year for product refreshes, HP's announcement is more than the usual tweak of product specifications. Though competitors like Dell, Acer and Lenovo are increasingly focusing on consumer retail PCs, HP has shown that it doesn't want to give up any of the ground it's gained over the last two quarters.
"They're fortunate for being in the right place at the right time: being in consumer and being in retail," said Richard Shim, PC analyst with IDC. "They're showing they're not taking that for granted and keeping consumers engaged in the products."
That is a tough task when most PCs these days are made by the same manufacturers with products from shared suppliers. However, that is where HP hopes its new and improved TouchSmart PC comes in.
The TouchSmart PC is slimmed-down in size and price compared with the original model, but the key will be the improved touchscreen interface. At one time, the exterior design of a product was the way to stand out but, with a category in decline, such as desktops, a unique software experience could attract attention.
Offering an experience that cannot be obtained from a Windows-based Dell or even an Apple iMac is complicated, said Shim. "That really separates the major players from the minor players, since only the big guys can afford to do this kind of thing. HP is taking advantage of its position in the market."
The new HP-only interface is also the kind of "end-run" around Microsoft's Windows that will be seen more often, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD Group.
It is a trend that is already taking root in the mini-notebook category, where, instead of being limited to one option for an operating system, PC vendors are offering different flavours of Linux, as well as alternate interfaces that sit on top of Windows.
Design continues to be a priority for HP, the company said, as evidenced by the new products, from the high-end to the refreshed line of consumer notebooks to the new brushed aluminium finish for the commercial Elite line.