HP to bring touchscreen laptops next year

By Koushik Saha on 17.10.08

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Hewlett-Packard Co., aiming to boost its personal computer sales amid a deteriorating economy and soft holiday season, is increasingly turning to touch-screen technology.The computer giant is now developing a consumer notebook machine with a touch screen that will debut before year end, said people familiar with the matter. It will include special H-P software that supports the touch screen, but other details, such as pricing, remained unclear.

The new laptop is the latest in a series of touch-oriented devices, including an upcoming line of cellphones, that will become a priority of H-P's consumer strategy as it tries to differentiate itself from rivals such as Dell Inc., these people said.

H-P began promoting touch screens last year with a big-screen desktop computer called the TouchSmart. The Palo Alto, Calif., company introduced a revamped TouchSmart this year, with new software and a new external design and has recently ramped up its effort to market the computer.

The touch-sensitive screens allow PC users to move items around, surf the Web or open files with their fingertips, replacing functions normally performed by a mouse and keyboard.The touch-sensitive screens allow PC users to move items around, surf the Web or open files with their fingertips, replacing functions normally performed by a mouse and keyboard.

Roger Kay, a PC-industry analyst with Endpoint Technologies, said H-P is trying to create a new market with its focus on touch, since there's no established market for such products other than Apple Inc.'s iPhone. Tablet PCs, or touch-screen laptops, "haven't done that well" in the past, he added.

H-P's touch-screen effort is being led by executives such as Phil McKinney, the PC division's chief technical officer. Mr. McKinney has been working on PC software that masks Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, and has hired the design company Frog Design to help develop new touch software and hardware. The TouchSmart desktop was the first result of that project.

An H-P spokeswoman declined to detail forthcoming products, though she acknowledged H-P is "building a whole family of touch" devices that will be released in the future.

The new touch-screen notebook comes in time for a holiday sales season that's expected to drag heavily on PC makers. While the end-of-year season is usually the strongest for consumer PC sales, "we're looking at a pretty gloomy outlook" this year, said Mika Kitagawa, an analyst at research firm Gartner.

On Tuesday, Gartner said world-wide PC shipments grew 15% in the third quarter. While Gartner had previously predicted a 14% fourth-quarter jump in consumer PC shipments, the research firm will likely lower that forecast to reflect the weakening economy, said Ms. Kitagawa.

Much of the growth that Gartner does anticipate will come from low-end mini-notebooks, or "netbooks," said Ms. Kitagawa. Netbooks can access the Internet and perform basic PC functions, but usually sell for $500 or less, half as much as many full-sized laptops.

To capitalize on netbook growth, H-P is planning to introduce a new netbook with a 10-inch screen this year, said people familiar with the matter. The netbook won't feature a touch screen. H-P has been selling a smaller netbook geared toward schools since earlier this year.

While H-P started selling a touch-screen laptop last year, Mr. Kay said the company put relatively little effort into marketing it. People familiar with H-P's current plans said the company will be more aggressive with its new products.

These people said H-P is also working on a line of consumer cellphones that feature touch screens and the first such phone will be introduced in Europe this year. H-P plans to start selling the phones through a U.S. cellular carrier within the next year or so.

2 comments for this post


a really good news for all hp gadgets lover.i will be waiting for that laptop

Posted on October 18, 2008 at 7:49 AM  

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