Whether Apple intends to send the message or not, it appears to technical professionals that Apple isn’t catering to the technical professionals the way it has in the past. This has created opportunity in that market that Hewlett-Packard is consciously exploiting.
The Best Surprise is No Surprise
Apple keeps secrets for good reason. The PC market remains very competitive, and there are several companies who have been emulating Apple’s designs and coveting Apple’s image and success in the notebook market. Apple has a history of developing breakthrough designs that leave the competition gasping. But they’ve been catching up.
That said, the enterprise and technical markets do need some occasional care and feeding when it comes to professional, mission critical equipment. Just as Apple’s product cycle can get out of sync with Intel’s, technical professionals engaged in design, research and computation need to depend on a long-term vision from their favorite computer supplier.
Over the past few years, signs of inattention to these markets have emerged from Cupertino. All this has been documented elsewhere, so I won’t rehash it in detail except to point to the long-awaited 2013 Mac Pro, Apple’s grand opening fanfare and then its subsequent abandonment: 1,000+ days of silence. The demise of apple.com/science and the absent attention to the eventually terminated, obsolete Thunderbolt display and the end of support for Aperture sent unmistakable messages that weren’t explained or remedied by new initiatives.
Hewlett-Packard Has Noticed
HP has had its ups and downs in recent years, but it remains a strong engineering company that caters to technical professionals. HP has a storied tradition in everything for technical professionals from handheld calculators to measurement and instrumentation to UNIX workstations to supercomputers.
Along the way, I have become aware of certain initiatives by Hewlett-Packard and have engaged the company in conversation about its initiatives. Perhaps the most visible sign so far was my long odyssey, looking for a new display for my Mac Pro culminating in a review of HP’s magnificent Z34c 34-inch display. See: “The Display You’ve Always Wanted For Your Mac: HP Z34c.”
Further discussions have resulted in an affirmation that HP both recognizes the opportunity created by Apple and is eager to exploit it. My HP representative provided some insight. Note that the following statement may seem like market-speak, but that’s not the point. The point is that HP is hereby punctuating its interest in catering to technical professionals who feel abandoned by Apple, rightly or wrongly.
HP’s Z Family of professional workstation-class products is focused on meeting the needs of the world’s most demanding users. HP has a heritage of engineering excellence, and has been delighting customers with workstations innovations for more than 35 years.
Today, HP Z Desktop Workstations, ZBook Mobile Workstations, and Z Displays are used to design everything from running shoes and racecars to animated characters and deep-sea submersibles, as well as to manage research labs, mission-critical IT environments and billions of dollars of tradable securities. HP Z products are designed to meet the needs of some of the most compute-intensive industries, including animation, film/video editing, graphic design, CAD, architecture, photography, high-definition video, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, scientific imaging and oil and gas exploration.
At the beginning of the century, four key players manufactured traditional workstations: Silicon Graphics, Sun, IBM and HP. Today, HP is the only surviving and thriving workstation vendor of those four. In just a few short years, HP went from a distant second in the market to No. 1 in workstation shipments worldwide.
In support of this initiative, HP has developed, if you will, a reverse switcher site, called Mac to Z. Looking at that page’s comparison chart to a Mac Pro, it’s clear why a workstation like this has technical appeal.
Next page: computing religion and the Mac’s future.