HP has climbed to the top of the PC mountain over the past few years. In Q2 of this year, the company garnered 18.2 percent of the worldwide PC market, up from 14.9 percent for the year earlier, according to IDC numbers. Closet competitor Dell had around 15 percent in Q2. The battle for PC supremacy continues as HP announces its latest round of PCs and handhelds today, emphasizing industrial design elements as a key differentiator.
HP is launching the products tonight in fashionable New York, with " eye-catching designs," and featuring tennis star Serena Williams, the latest celebrity featured in HP’s talking hands, “The Computer is Personal Again” marketing campaign. Ms. Williams isn't having a good day, however. According to press reports, she turned snippy and "classless" after her loss to Justine Henin and exit from the U.S. Open competition today. Hopefully, she bring her estimable charm to HP's event.
The biggest announcement, at least in terms of size, is HP's tricked-out gaming machine dubbed Blackbird 002, perhaps in honor of the high-tech U.S. SR-71 reconnaissance spy plane.
The Blackbird 02 has an artistically rendered black cover and rests on a cast?aluminum foot that is capable of supporting up to 600 lbs. Of course, it's unclear as to how you soup up the machine to support 600 lb. worth of gear inside the box.
The Blackbird 002 is based on the VoodooPC's high-end game machine architecture (HP acquired VoodooPC last year, matching Dell's acquisition of specialty vendor Alienware). It has an aluminum chassis, liquid-cooling, an open BIOS and user-controlled overclocking. Pricing ranges from $2,500 to $7,100 based on configuration.
CNET's reviewer Rich Brown gives the Blackbird 002 high marks: "HP's Blackbird 002 earns the highest rating this editor has ever given a desktop PC. Its design rivals the Apple Mac Pro, it takes risks that benefit your upgrade path, it's fast, and it's competitively priced. If you can afford it, and you want a high-end gaming PC, buy this one. End of story."
"HP has created the Ferrari of gaming," Satjiv Chahil, executive vice president of marketing for the HP's Personal Systems Group told me. Indeed, the innards of the Blackbird 002 look like what's under the hood of a Ferrari. In addition, HP reignited its iPAQ handheld product line with several new smartphones, mobile devices, services and accessories. The iPAQ 900 Series Business Messenger(at left) and iPAQ 600 Series Business Navigator, for example, supports tri-band UMTS/HSDPA and quad-band GSM/EDGE wireless technology, with Wi-Fi and VoIP capabilities. Both run the Window Mobile 6 Professional OS and have a 3-megapixel camera and touch screen.
The iPAQ 200 Series Enterprise Handheld has a 4-inch touch screen and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, HP is offering software for managing mobile device deployment and management and iPAQ Mobile Broadband Connect for accessing the Web on an HP notebook or PC via a tethered iPAQ 3G phone.
With the holiday season approaching and enterprises using up capital equipment funds before they dry up , HP also announced the expanded availability of HP MediaSmart TVs and servers and a refresh of consumer and business desktops, notebooks and LCD displays.