HP — Taking the Geek out of Computers

HP Art of Small BusinessYesterday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Hewlett Packard (HP) put on an event called The Art of Small Business. The purpose was to announce several new products and partnerships for the small business market.

I attended the event and as you probably could guess from the name, the theme was about art. What might not be so obvious is the connection between business and art.

HP used the word “art” to refer to small businesses. In the words of Satjiv Chahil, Senior VP of Marketing at HP, “small business is a fine art that combines passion and expertise.”

But you also could say that art is a metaphor for HP’s approach to designing new products for small businesses. HP announced 12 new products. What struck me about the products is how much HP has done to take the geek out of computers. More features, but easier to use, is how I would describe the offerings.

For instance, one of the new products is a desktop computer with a built-in backup system that automatically backs up your data. The backup consists of a second hard drive. The whole thing is factory-installed, so you don’t have to mess around buying and installing a separate back-up solution. You don’t have to remember to do anything to back up your files, either — the system backs itself up every time you turn it on. The only extra cost involved is the cost of a second hard drive, which could be as little as $75 extra. We all know we should back up data, but most of us don’t have IT staff and we don’t want to take time away from running our businesses to do data backups. So we just don’t back up — until something happens and we risk losing all our data. This new computer makes it so we don’t have to do anything or even think about backing up our data — it’s done for us.

Another new offering is a laptop that automatically encrypts your data. Data encryption is another of those security measures that experts tell us we should do. But few small businesses I know actually do encryption — probably because we don’t have a clue how to encrypt files. With this laptop, your data is encrypted automatically without you having to do anything. Then if the laptop happens to be stolen from your car, at least your data would be protected from unauthorized people.

Other promising offerings announced include an automatic online backup service at about $12 a month. There is also a feature called Total Care which is a dashboard that lets you monitor the health of your computer or put it on auto pilot.

HP is designing new products that minimize or eliminate the need for business owners to install complicated extras, or take action, or even have to think about the systems. They are making computers easier to use in our businesses, for those of us who want to run our businesses and not have to play IT person.

More information here.


SMBs Use Mac Computers


Jupiter Research’s Microsoft Monitor blog takes Microsoft to task for restricting access to its support sites to those using Internet Explorer. Apparently the site blocks out anyone using Firefox browser or a Mac.

In the process, researcher Joe Wilcox speaks about software usage by small and medium businesses:

A recent JupiterResearch survey found a surprisingly large number of small and medium businesses running a Mac productivity suite (I plan to publish the numbers later, so I won’t reveal them now). Seeing as how Microsoft sells the only full-featured, native-Mac OS X productivity suite, its a fair bet the majority of these customers are Microsoft’s. But they can’t easily access Microsoft’s small business site.

This wouldn’t be the first time a Microsoft Website locked out other Web browsers. And I can understand why Microsoft wants to hook SMBs as tightly as possible into its technologies. There is some legitimate benefit to integration, particularly among SMBs, where three quarters don’t have a full-time IT manager. Additionally, if Microsoft can lock SMBs in early, they will continue to buy the company’s products as they expand. As explained in my report, SMB Market: Microsoft’s Early Success Shows Way for Savvy Partners and Competitors,” not a lot of smaller businesses have the kind of server software that would be a checklist item for enterprises. Upsell potential is huge for vendors with the right entry strategy.

This link came via Susan Bradley of the E-Bitz blog. As Susan notes in a post, consultants and integrators who work with Microsoft products at clients’ locations, have recognized for a while that some of their small business clients are using Macs.


Tablets Are Displacing Personal Computers with Consumers

tablet pc

Customer interaction and payments to your website are more and more likely to be taking place from a tablet or other mobile device.

A continued decline in the number of PCs being shipped and presumably bought worldwide shows that tablets are displacing them with consumers, especially in emerging markets.

What the Numbers Say

A recent report from Gartner Inc. shows a 10.9 percent decline in PC shipments in the second quarter of 2013. It is the fifth consecutive quarter of decline, the longest sustained decrease in shipments in the industry’s history.

Meanwhile, a separate report from International Data Corporation suggests an even more precipitous dropin PC shipments for the second quarter of about 11.7 percent. But IDC insists total shipment were actually higher than projected.

What This Means

This doesn’t mean small business owners will necessarily be using tablets instead of PCs to operate their businesses. But it could mean that most of your customers especially outside the U.S. might be mobile.

In a prepared release, Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner explained:

We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs, as inexpensive tablets displace the low-end machines used primarily for consumption in mature and developed markets. In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC. This is also accounting for the collapse of the mini notebook market.

At the same time, tablet shipments have seen a sustained increase, going from 18.7 million in the first quarter of 2012 to 40.6 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Sales generated from mobile marketing continue to increase as well. For example, in the U.S. alone, those sales are expected to increase by 52 percent by 2015 to an estimated $400 billion.

Small business owners must make sure their websites are mobile and able to take mobile payments to prepare for this growing demand.

Tablet Consumer Photo via Shutterstock


Sticky Note Personal Computers

Unleashing Bold Initiatives

Here’s a cartoon I did a few years ago, and with the launch of the iPad I thought it was a good time to dust it off.

I remember I was getting ready to buy a new computer and I could’t decide between a notebook computer (the word “netbook” hadn’t yet emerged) and a tablet.

So I wrote them down on a piece of paper to make a pros and cons list. Seeing the two words next to each other I thought it was odd that we were relating such high technology to simple paper products, and the above popped into my head.