A recent downturn in notebook sales has failed to dampen HP's enthusiasm to muscle into the market place, with the vendor announcing a new market development manager and new Omnibook to help push the company further up the notebook ranks.
Clare Tipler, previously market development manager for HP's LaserJet printers, has taken the Omnibook reins as market development manager. The vendor has also launched the Omnibook 500, a lightweight offering aimed at making the portable market even more mobile.
"HP is being very bullish regarding the notebook market - it is a key area of focus for us," Tipler said.
HP wants to work its way into the Top three notebook vendors globally within the next two years and take the number two position in Australia by 2003. To that end, its new notebook is aimed at both the corporate and SME markets, treading the line between portability and functionality. HP is hailing the new notebook PC as a "flagship product".
The key to its Omnibook 500 offering is the inclusion of a "slice" - a base station which can be fitted with either two drives or two additional batteries, expanding the notebook to a three-spindle product. The slice supports a range of storage and multimedia options such as floppy disks, CD-ROM, CD-RW, LS-120 and Zip drives. HP will offer different bundles to the reseller depending on their needs, Tipler added.
The slice expansion is aimed to give Omnibook 500 users the functionality of an office desktop system. Customisations and accessories seem to be a growing point of differentiation in the notebook market place. The Omnibook 500 features a magnesium alloy casing and customisable hotkeys.
"These days, style is almost as important as the product itself," Tipler said.
Options include a 600 or 700MHz Pentium II processor, 256KB internal L2 cache, 32KB internal L1 cache memory, 64 or 128MB SDRAM with expansion available for up to 512MB and up to 20MB hard drive.
The notebook will retail for $4500 for the base unit and $500 for the slice.
Photograph: HP Omnibook market development manager Clare Tipler.