The increasing impact of style and functionality from the consumer segment to the commercial PC space is not a new trend, but HP believes it has taken it to a new level with its latest announcements, designed to appeal to millennial customers both in their esthetics and through a new commitment to improving the notebook PC as a communications device.
Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, HP Inc. is announcing significant new announcements to both its commercial and consumer PC lines. While the demarcation between the two lines has become less distinct over the last couple of years, HP is emphasizing that the new 12.5-inch HP EliteBook Folio being introduced today goes further than ever before in its embrace of consumer esthetics and its appeal to the millennial market segment most influenced by consumer market choices.
“The line between the commercial and consumer segments isn’t that strong here and that was our intention,” said Mike Nash, VP, Customer Experience and Portfolio Strategy at HP, Inc.
While this has been a general recent trend throughout the industry, Nash stressed that HP is at its forefront, and the split of the old company into two ones is intensifying their ability to focus on meeting its demands.
“There has been a re-invention of HP in the personal space in last 25 months or so, but as part of the separation of HP, HP Inc. is definitely more focused on this than before,” he said. “This means growing into new categories like Mini and Chrome. It also means a tremendous amount of innovation in this space which flows down to the rest of the business.”
The new EliteBook Folio, which is 21 per cent slimmer [12.4 mm] and 15 per cent lighter [under 1 kg] than the EliteBook 102, epitomizes this trend, and is specifically designed to appeal to millennials who are most likely to want to see consumer look and functionality in their business devices.
“The HP EliteBook Folio is really focused on the millennial customer, with all the consumer things they want now brought to the office,” Nash said. “Millenials are now the largest part of the workforce at 34%, are growing, and are increasingly with more authority. As the millennial customer becomes a much more significant part of the workplace, a significant trend is that work isn’t a place you go to, but what you do, and lines are blurred.”
Nash pointed out that premium features, once reserved for the high end of the commercial market, are now demanded by the millennial segment.
“The things we used to direct at executives only, millennials are now expecting,” he said, pointing out that 43 per cent of laptops that cost over $1000 are owned by millennials.”
Alex Cho, vice president and general manager, Commercial PCs, Personal Systems, at HP Inc. said they were being asked why they were choosing to focus on these consumer features in their commercial PCs this week, and he said it was because they think HP is unique in the way it brings all the consumer esthetics into the office.
“IT managers are afraid what people will bring into the office, but these are not only beautiful but they are secure, versatile, and manageable,” Cho said. “We think this is an element we can lead on.”
HP is also leading on the way the HP EliteBook Folio has been specifically customized for business collaboration, with Microsoft and HP engineers working jointly for over a year to provide the best possible Skype for Business experience.
“The EliteBook Folio was designed focusing on Skype for Business, which is really critical,” Nash said.
Cho said that this was really the first time that HP had strongly considered how customers are now spending large amounts of time conferencing on their notebooks.
“We hadn’t thought of this before, but people use these as a communication device, so we worked closely with Microsoft Skype and Intel to optimize Folio for conferencing, recognizing people use them for conferencing and calling people,” he stated. Not only has Skype for Business been customized for this model, but HP has utilized Bang & Olufsen technology, which is specifically optimized for voice quality in the same way that Beats technology used in HP consumer models is optimized for music quality.
“The engineering gives it 40 per cent louder audio than the previous HP device in this category,” Nash said. This makes the Folio much more functional to use as a phone.
The EliteBook Folio also has an optional Ultra HD 4K display with pixel density of 352 pixels per inch, as well as up to 10 hours of battery life.
Also on the commercial front, HP unveiled the next generations of their best-selling 14” business-class notebook – the EliteBook 1040 G3 – and the EliteBook 800 G3 series, which comes in 12.5-inch, 14.0-inch or 15.6-inch models, and is 10 per cent thinner and lighter than the previous generation. The EliteBook 1040 uses the same all-aluminum diamond cut design as the EliteBook Folio, while the EliteBook 800 series has a silver magnesium and aluminum body for a thin, lighter and durable design.
“A critical part of the strategy with these is to focus on accessories and software,” Nash said. This includes the first HP Power Bank for notebooks, which charges an HP notebook and two additional mobile devices at the same time. It also includes enhanced touchpoint management software, newly designed carrying cases and several docking options. They also support two-factor authentication.
The EliteBook Folio is expected to be available in March at starting at $USD 999. The EliteBook 1040 G3 is expected to be available in January starting at $USD 1,199. The EliteBook 800 G3 series is expected to be available in January starting at $USD 949. The USB-C Travel Dock for the EliteBook Folio is expected to be available in March for $USD 119. The Notebook Power Bank is expected to be available in January for $USD 129.