HP has unveiled its vision for the future of personal computing, taking the wraps of its second "Concept PC" for assessment by the channel.
The Concept PC II separates two aspects of the desktop in an effort to marry the needs of end users with those of IT managers and procurement departments. For the first time, HP has separated the computing unit -- the components that are normally hidden from end users in a bulky beige box -- from a personalised unit encompassing display, DVD-drive, USB connection and wireless technologies.
"The Concept PC is a development process adopted from the car industry," explained Gerhard Schiele, HP's Asia-Pacific regional marketing manager for commercial desktops. "It allows us to test ideas, which can then be incorporated into our desktop range, so it is important that we use future-proof technology.
"We do not believe in innovation for the sake of it -- it must have a purpose -- so we ask our customers and those that service them what they need. The PC incorporates both a personal element that addresses end-user needs, and a computing element focusing on the needs of the IT manager."
Many of the features of the first Concept PC, which was released by HP over a year ago, have since been included in HP's e-PC range of desktops. HP has gone to considerable effort to find a balance between the different needs of each of its customers.
"We used to segment desktops into SME and professional products, but that was confusing to customers as they don't classify PCs themselves. Now we classify our products into essential and professional lines," Schiele said. There is an increasing need to focus on the total cost of ownership and stability of desktop fleets among HP's professional products, he added, with longer lifecycles and a guaranteed software image - that is, one software load available across all of HP's form factors.
"If you're just pushing the next grey or beige box, it's easy, but the moment you try to address the customer's needs, it becomes much harder. You need to do things in a different way."
End users, IT departments and procurement departments often have very different, sometimes conflicting needs.
"End users want PCs to be more reliable, whereas IT managers measure things in terms of TCO -- they want something that is simple and reliable, with the best service from either HP or our partners. Procurement staff tend to balance what is needed with the budget."
The Concept PC II uses the Intel Pentium 4 processor, Windows XP Professional and wireless technologies such as Bluetooth. While the Concept PC will never hit the shelves, the feedback that HP receives on the unit will dictate which technologies and designs the vendor incorporates into its future products.
HP has also launched a new notebook, the XT6050. The model attempts to balance portability and performance -- the two factors rated most important by end users.