High-tech doesn’t mean high fashion

How appropriate that Hewlett-Packard Co. chose New York City and Fashion Week to showcase the latest happenings within its Personal Systems Group business space.

Style overshadowed the substance on display at HP’s Your Life is the Show event in the Big Apple during Labour Day week, where the memorable news should have been the unveiling of many new personal systems products, including new notebooks, workstations, desktops and handhelds. Instead, it was a gathering of celebrities at a trendy nightclub in Manhattan’s “Meat-Packing District” and the surprise appearances of tennis star Serena Williams, supermodel Petra Nemkova, and assorted extreme-sport professional athletes prominently featured in HP’s way-cool The Computer is Personal, Again ad campaign that attendees seemed most excited about.

Just as well. It was, after all, a week of high fashion in New York, where people here expected chic designs and sleek fall collections, rather than new form factors for desktop systems and larger displays for handhelds. HP gets an “A” for effort in trying to add a bit of sizzle through a few recognizable celebs in hopes of injecting a bit of style around the fairly limited substance on display.

But, there was a good HP story. The company is basking in the spotlight of success for crafting new attitudes rather than technology. HP’s campaign, The Computer is Personal Again, drives the message that people can and should love their PCs.

Personal System Group (PSG) senior vice-president Sativ Chahil proudly revealed “a year of great accomplishment for both HP and the PSG.”

“We’ve added US$4.9 billion in revenue in the first three quarters of the year,” he said in a keynote speech, adding that HP PSG revenue grew by 23 per cent over the previous year and increased profit by 65 per cent. Notebook sales grew 61 per cent while total unit sales are up 30 per cent, he said, adding that desktop revenue is up by 9 per cent while unit sales rose 15 per cent.

Today HP claims to be the world’s largest PC maker. And you have to believe that the firm’s slick ad campaign has been a catalyst.

Love of computing machine may not be an original idea, but it’s definitely being executed near flawlessly by HP. CEO Todd Bradley and company have taken a big bite from Steven Jobs and Apple Inc.

It was, after all, Apple chief Jobs and crew who proved that if you make the design interesting and unique, and take on an attitude, customers will express true emotional caring for computer. The Apple Mac is adored and the love affair has sustained the company through thick and thin business times.

New products brought the press to New York City during Fashion Week, but HP’s Your Life is the Show will be remembered for the business success HP is enjoying as a result of the Computer is Personal Again campaign. It was the substance behind the style.

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