There is a lot of distrust surrounding the Intel brand at the moment largely due to a sequence of events which included a slow disclosure of a serious security flaw (which appears to be getting worse), a secret early disclosure of this flaw to China (which has technical ties to North Korea), related patch problems, their CEO apparently fleeing Intel stock. This damaged trust and raised the question of why anyone would want to invest in a company, for product or stock, that the firm’s own CEO didn’t think was a good investment and this comes on top of the insider trading concerns raised by the activity.
In the meantime, AMD released their strongest set of processors in their history, generally equal to or better than Intel’s offerings, and providing unique values in areas like single socket servers. Against that launch Dell, HP, and Lenovo brought out new products. However, it is interesting to note, that of the 3 HP was by far the most aggressive releasing entire lines of offerings.
Let’s talk about why this could play particularly well for HP.
The Importance of a Line
When looking at what could become an industry pivot—Intel is struggling at the moment, buyers like to see a solid commitment on competing technology rather than tentative moves. If they are going to invest in the pivot early or take advantage of point price incentives, they like to see the vendor they are using is fully in.
While single product targeted sales can be very powerful, as Apple has repeatedly showcased, that approach comes with a massive marketing requirement which only Apple, and occasionally Samsung, have been willing to step up to. And even then, it has rarely worked in the commercial space generally being more effective with consumer offerings. These new AMD-based lines are commercial offerings.
Thus, releasing lines for both desktop and mobile use better fit within the traditional PC OEM’s product model and should perform better than the single or dual product offerings of HP’s competitors.
HP Stepping Ahead of Their Competitors
HP stepped ahead of their competitors to release 4 new notebooks and a whopping 5 new desktop systems with this launch. Standing out from the group were the HP EliteBook 735 G5 with a 13.3-inch screen which is arguably the most compelling AMD based laptop ever produced and more than comparable to its Intel counterpart and the small form factor HP EliteDesk 705 Mini G4 which provides a near perfect blend of size and performance for most desktop implementations.
Across the board, the products are both well-priced and have unusually attractive designs easily equaling their Intel based counterparts but priced so that, effectively, the user is getting discrete Vega graphics for free.
Given how increasingly applications are using GPU compute over CPU compute this not only provides an initial performance advantage but should allow these products to remain in service longer, further lowering the total cost of ownership for an AMD-based system.
The attractive designs surrounding both desktop and laptop lines flow out of HP’s unique One Life strategy, which speaks to the fact that users aren’t either employees or consumers, they are both. This means, and this has proven particularly true of Millennials, that users want tools they can be proud of. Surveys have highlighted that potential employees will favor companies that give them better tools. This learning has driving IT buyers to allow for more attractive offerings and speaks to why HP is outgrowing their competitors of late. They are simply more aggressively providing the tools that users want and IT buyers are increasingly driven by those user wants (something many of us have been tracking for over a decade).
Given Intel’s weakness surrounds some unfortunate security decisions made by that company, HP’s security first strategy appears to also be resonating. Surrounding their offerings is a unique set of security tools that provide self-healing for BIOS and Firmware, assures that malware can’t shut down critical services, helps the user avoid contaminated web sites, provides multi-factor authentication, and even has a surprisingly unique privacy camera option to prevent spying.
One other feature I’m surprised is unique to HP is an integrated optional electronic privacy screen. I think every laptop should have one of these as it prevents the person sitting next to you on a plane, or other public space, from seeing what you are working on. These things should have been a requirement years ago but, currently, only HP is offering them broadly.
Wrapping Up: HP Steps Up
Markets are often defined by companies that step up to a challenge and—against the current Intel crowd—only HP is fully stepping up to the opportunities represented by AMD alternative PCs. With two strong PC lines that are both attractive and well-secured they have taken the unusual path to being what is likely the safest product heaven for business PC buyers. I expect the market will reward their risk given the growing concerns surrounding Intel.
There is an old saying “go big or go home” apparently HP is following it with their new AMD lines which are helping define HP as the PC company to beat this decade.