Opinion: Why NZ doesn't have HP Ultrabooks
- — 10 May, 2012 22:00
One of the major announcements by HP in Shanghai was around its Ultrabook range - particularly its brand of 'no compromise' Ultrabooks that includes the likes of the HP Spectre XT - and the contrast between those and the 'Sleekbook'.
But you won't find either of those terms being used by HP here in New Zealand in the near future. The entire collection are grouped together under 'thin and light'. I asked HP's VP for the printing and personal system group for the whole of APJ, Dion Weisler, why this was, and whether it would continue. His answer, in not so many words, was 'yes'.
Admittedly, his answer was more along the lines of, "We'll continue to monitor consumer acceptance of the terms Ultrabook and Sleekbook into the future", but it was enough to give me pause. Why is New Zealand so singled out? Why don't we get HP Ultrabooks?
The answer lies in HP's dominance here. The likes of Asus, Dell, Toshiba and Acer may launch Ultrabooks here and even brand them as such, but HP commanded 46% of consumer PC sales in New Zealand, at the most recent estimate, and the other players just don't have the same visibility in store.
What we've noticed, too, is that there's some degree of confusion about what an Ultrabook actually is. Is it ultra-portable, or ultra-powerful? While that confusion exists, HP benefits by using 'thin and light' - it's clear, straightforward and descriptive.
In Australia, advertising for the Ultrabook is prominent on television. My understanding is that this is paid for partly by Intel (which created the term Ultrabook) although it may also be partly funded by the brands that use the term for their laptops. This is the way that print advertising has worked in the past.
In New Zealand, there's been no such advertising. Ultrabook is still confusing, then, because it hasn't been clarified. But it doesn't need clarification, because the largest brand isn't using it here. It's a little 'chicken and egg'.
As editor of PC World, it's my role to help demystify such terms, and we've printed several explanations, reviews and features that help clarify what an Ultrabook is, and how it differs from other thin and light laptops, including so-called sleekbooks.
At the end of the day, however, it's more important for me to help you, the consumer, identify whether a product fits your needs, and no overarching marketing term helps with that, ultimately.
And the difference between a Sleekbook and an Ultrabook? The former runs AMD processors, and as such is not defined by the strict Ultrabook guidelines. They may include mechanical hard drives, and may weigh more or have different ports, for example.
But you're not likely to find one from HP labelled that on a shelf any time soon.