HP in entertaining move

HP in entertaining move

HP will unveil another 35 products this month that have been designed to bolster its image as an entertainment vendor.

Chief among them will be a media centre PC timed to hit the market alongside Microsoft's Windows XP Media Centre edition operating system.

HP first turned its attention to consumer entertainment two years ago when it launched 100 products aimed at the digital home market, according to the general manager of its South Pacific imaging and printing group, Rebekah O'Flaherty. Dominated by printers and cameras, these products were followed by another batch of more than 50 at the back end of last year.

"We are starting to see the development of HP as an entertainment vendor," O'Flaherty said. "There have been substantial investments in brand commercials for the first time in many years - an effort designed to take HP from an office productivity setting to the entertainment space.

"Digital photography has been the first manifestation of that and it is a great example of how consumers are moving from analog to digital in a very short time."

O'Flaherty highlighted how DVDs had swamped video sales within four years as another example of the rapid move towards digitisation and said HP would continue to drive its brand into the entertainment space next year. In order to do this, it was building relationships with an ever-growing number of organisations as diverse as Microsoft and DreamWorks.

"Alliances are increasingly important as industries continue to blur and reshape," O'Flaherty said.

"The digital entertainment market will be larger than consumer IT and consumer electronics combined by 2006 - that is the main reason HP is compelled to move into this space."

And as HP looked to jump into entertainment with both feet, O'Flaherty urged its resellers to follow suit.

"The big opportunity for the channel will be putting all the pieces together as more and more devices become networked and inter-related," she said. "The PC will be a misnomer in this new world of entertainment but there will be a central depository for storing content. With photography, for example, most consumers have some of their history in analog and some in digital formats. How can these be converged into a single content management system?"

HP had already held think-tank sessions with some of its leading channel partners to discuss how to maximise opportunities in the digital home and, according to O'Flaherty, was keen to continue the dialogue.

"It's not so much about sexy devices. What consumers are really going to want and need is help with pulling them all together," she said. "The partnership between Best Buys and the Geek Squad in the US is a great model. As well as visiting homes to do installations, the reseller has lots of opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell - it is a marketing and sales dream that applies equally well in Australia."

The challenge that lay ahead for the market, O'Flaherty said, was improving interoperability between devices manufactured by different vendors.

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