Multiple business model RPN calculators and not many scientific ones?



#2

Hello All,

As the subject line, my impression is that there are quite a few new business rpn calculators you can buy, but the same is not true for engineering/scientific calculators.

Is there any particular reason for this?

Have we got to the point where there wont be any new scientific rpn calculators made and we'll either have to pick between the HP35s or the HP50g?

I know there was some speculation a while back that at somepoint the HP15c would be reissued but that seems like it was just wishful thinking or am I wrong?

Come on HP give us some new scientific non graphing calculators please.


#3

Quote:
As the subject line, my impression is that there are quite a few new business rpn calculators you can buy, but the same is not true for engineering/scientific calculators.

Is there any particular reason for this?


Yes, marketing.

There must be a bigger market for financial calculators than scientific calculator, simple as that.

The only other reason would be if someone high up at HP had a financial calculator fetish.

Quote:
Have we got to the point where there wont be any new scientific rpn calculators made and we'll either have to pick between the HP35s or the HP50g?

It's a possibility.

The 35S and 50G were made to meet two very specific market segments.

It can be argued that no such (reasonable size) market exists for general use scientific calculators any more.

Quote:
I know there was some speculation a while back that at somepoint the HP15c would be reissued but that seems like it was just wishful thinking or am I wrong?

It's not wishful thinking.

If HP were to release a new scientific calculator, it makes extraordinary sense for it to be a re-issue of the 15C.

I've explained the reasons before. But basically because there is clearly very little market for such a thing, you have to come out with something novel. The 15C would be retro-novel, have much lower development risk and cost, and would have the best shot at getting decent sales. It also fits in with the HP retro paradigm.

Dave.


#4

Quote:
It's not wishful thinking.
If HP were to release a new scientific calculator, it makes extraordinary sense for it to be a re-issue of the 15C.

Perhaps we should have people following Cyrille and Tim, in case one of them accidentally drops a 15c prototype at the bar..

#5

Quote:
As the subject line, my impression is that there are quite a few new business rpn calculators you can buy, but the same is not true for engineering/scientific calculators.
Is there any particular reason for this?

It was a global financial/business crisis, not an engineering/scientific one. So that sector may need proper tools more desperately. Just guessing ... d;-)
#6

I find myself puzzled over the HP calculator division's direction. Then sometimes I wonder if they just stick a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

When I look at the 48/49/50 and 38/39/40 series, it looks like they decided to speed up and modernize the 48G and 38G models, so since TI has been so successful, they made the new HP's look like TI's. That didn't go over so well, so we got the 50g, which looks more like an HP, and seems to be doing well. So expect HP to leave well enough alone in that area.

Then the 33s got a "modern" look, which also got mixed reviews. I think the 35s had two reasons for it's development: 1) As a special commemorative model with a retro look to generate short-term sales, and 2) as test model to gauge the market for a more traditional HP-looking scientific. What did HP learn?

The rubber-key financials (10bii and 17bii+) didn't sell so well (witness Walmart dumping 10bii's at $2 each), so we got the new 10bii and silver 17bii+.

Now to the 20b and 30b. Not sure why HP brought these out, given the continued success of the 12c, and the acceptance of the newer 10bii and silver 17bii+. However, the fact that HP did bring them to market, IMO is the best news in a while, because they are completely new calcs, and because the architecture lends itself to the development of a whole line similar to the Pioneer concept.

We'll just have to wait and see.

#7

Well, there's the 33s and 48Gii, but they are both quite closely related to their bigger siblings.

This possibly leaves space for a more basic (perhaps non-programmable) RPN and something in-between like the 41C*/42S.

There's always the danger of over-diversifying and ending up with too many models giving a higher production cost but not the required increase in sales.

Would a 15C be viable? On the one hand a risk that it will only sell to the nostalgics but offset by the possibility that much of the 12C hardware can be used. It should even be possible to keep the hardware exactly the same as the new 12C (apart from screen and key labels), even down to the ARM processor and run the original 15C code encapsulated in an emulation within the ARM like the new 12C. But does HP still have the source code of the 15C?, I heard rumor that a lot was lost with the closure of the old calculator dept.


#8

Quote:
But does HP still have the source code of the 15C?, I heard rumor that a lot was lost with the closure of the old calculator dept.

Not a rumor, I think Tim actually stated this. But aren't there other ways to retrieve the code?
#9

Quote:
Would a 15C be viable? On the one hand a risk that it will only sell to the nostalgics but offset by the possibility that much of the 12C hardware can be used. It should even be possible to keep the hardware exactly the same as the new 12C (apart from screen and key labels), even down to the ARM processor and run the original 15C code encapsulated in an emulation within the ARM like the new 12C. But does HP still have the source code of the 15C?, I heard rumor that a lot was lost with the closure of the old calculator dept.

Surely HP would not need the original source, just the binary ROM dump? I heard that a new 15C prototype was displayed at one of the events?

Would a 15C be viable? Well IMO is would be by far the most viable option of any general market scientific calc. Why? it's simple, it's all about marketing leverage. A new standard scientific calc stands almost zero percent chance of getting any coverage what so ever, and Hp wouldn't dare spend a red cent marketing it.

But a 15C would surely get tons of geek blog space because it's retro and it's cool. "Hey look, HP bought back the exact same model from the 80's - cool!". It would be like Nintendo bringing back the Game'n'Watch. All that potential free publicity for very little in terms production time and risk. Like I've been saying from day one, it's complete no-brainer.

Dave.

Edited: 21 Apr 2010, 5:56 p.m.

#10

Quote:
There are quite a few new business rpn calculators you can buy, but the same is not true for engineering/scientific calculators.

Is there any particular reason for this?


Yes. In the pre-PC world, engineers used scientific calculators because, after the slide rules died, that was the best option. The PC changed all that. And today, with iphones and their apps carried by every human under 30, there is no market for a scientific calculator. Even look on this forum at the discussions, by old geezers like us, of iphone calculator emulators. Anyone who thinks new engineers are going to buy engineering calculators is living in a dream world.

I recently visited my old university bookstore to see what calculator offerings it had. Only one brand, TI, was represented. TI-84's for the math people and whatever TI's current financial offering is, for the MBAs and business types. Not a HP in sight.

Yes, the 12c+ and the 15c share the same hardware platform, but does anyone really think HP will put resources into developing a new 15c if only 27 people will buy it? That's a no-brainer.


#11

WRT every human under 30 carrying an iPhone or the like, true enough. BUT, I can't see schools/universities/examinations boards allowing test writers to pull out their (current generation) 3G/4G phones to use the calculator app...


#12

That's an interesting point, Michael, about the use of calculators on professional exams. ETS and others have always made huge amounts of money on professional paper-based exams. I wonder if, in the future, we will see universitites switch to computer-based exams, where an on-screen calculator will be part of the test environment for certain tests, and scoring will be immediate instead of waiting 6 weeks for ETS to score the exams (and you have to pay $25 if you want to know your result before it is mailed to you).

I wouldn't be surprized to see something like this happen in the near future. I'll bet ETS is already figuring out how they can capitalize on it.


#13

Dang! Hadn't thought of that! College Board exams are already available as computer based and as internet based tests, so it wouldn't be a big leap for them to supply the virtual calculator as well.

#14

Quote:
we will see universitites switch to computer-based exams, where an on-screen calculator will be part of the test environment for certain tests



I've already known that to happen, see my posts in this thread (about 2/3 down, msg 12, 14 & 15).


#15

Yeah, I remember reading that now. Thanks Bart. It was six years ago that I took some paper tests from ETS in order to become a teacher. I wondered at the time why we didn't use the college's computers to do those tests, because we would have known the results immediately. If they haven't switched to this method yet, I expect they will eventually.

Which leads, again, to the question of the future of scientific calculators. Assuming that a large number of current scientific calculators are sold to support the test-taking activity, what happens when they are no longer required?


#16

In the US, the largest single market for the HP-35S is probably among engineers and surveyors taking NCEES professional licensing exams. Only a few calculator models are approved for these exams, and the 35S is the most powerful. If you look up the 35S at amazon.com, you will see that the associated "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" list is full of FE and PE exam study materials.

Anyway, NCEES is looking very seriously at Computer-Based Testing. There is a good chance that they will switch from the old pencil-and-paper model in the next 2-3 years. However, the current plan is that examinees will bring in their own NCEES-approved calculators, so 35S sales would not be affected.

Details on pp. 6-7 at

http://www.ncees.org/Documents/Public/Licensure%20Exchange/Licensure_Exchange_04_10.pdf


#17

Quote:
In the US, the largest single market for the HP-35S is probably among engineers and surveyors taking NCEES professional licensing exams.

Did you ever hit the nail on the head! Looking over the NCEES annual report, available
here, about 25,000 engineers take the PE exam every year. Not to mention the 40,000 taking the FE exam, or the additional thousands taking surveyors exams. That's a lot of calculators each year, even if they are divided between HP, TI, and Casio.

#18

Quote:
Quote:
In the US, the largest single market for the HP-35S is probably among engineers and surveyors taking NCEES professional licensing exams.

Did you ever hit the nail on the head! Looking over the NCEES annual report, available
here, about 25,000 engineers take the PE exam every year. Not to mention the 40,000 taking the FE exam, or the additional thousands taking surveyors exams.

Did you ever think about the simple fact that 95% of mankind lives outside of the USA?

<rant> Thus you may expect coarsely the same fraction of students (both kinds of ;)) and engineers in both parts of the world. So the market is in that large area you call "foreign countries" or "rest of the world" (while the rest of the world may well call the missing 5% "rest of the world"). <end of rant>

So, metaphorically, you hit the nail on the head but the wrong nail IMHO.


#19

Wow, Walter, we seem to have hit a raw nerve rather than a nail!

Norris qualified his statement "In the U.S.", and I was responding to his comment. Speaking for myself, I was simply making the point that there is a huge market just from U.S. exam takers, let alone any other market. It was never my intention to slight the "rest of the world".

And DaveJ, who hails from "the rest of the world", seems to think that "the 35S was designed specifically to meet that market requirement".

We'll probably never know, but I would bet that 95% of 35s sales are to U.S. buyers. No?


#20

Martin, maybe Dave and me are pointing to the same. HP may have designed the 35S for those 50,000 missing the fact their target market could have been 1,000,000 people in the world. So why focus on those 50,000 and HP's presumably good share there as long as HP has a very poor share of the 1,000,000 possible customers elsewhere having been within reach with another design? Simply look where the volume is. I may be wrong by a factor of 2 or 3.1415/2 but this does not kill the argument.


#21

Quote:
Martin, maybe Dave and me are pointing to the same. HP may have designed the 35S for those 50,000 missing the fact their target market could have been 1,000,000 people in the world. So why focus on those 50,000 and HP's presumably good share there as long as HP has a very poor share of the 1,000,000 possible customers elsewhere having been within reach with another design? Simply look where the volume is. I may be wrong by a factor of 2 or 3.1415/2 but this does not kill the argument.

If HP knew the market for a scientific calc outside of that US exam market was an order of magnitude bigger then you can bet your bottom dollar we'd have either two scientific calcs, or a 35S which *wasn't* crippled to meet those exam requirements.

After all HP already had a good selling exam calc in the 33S, so it speaks volumes that their next (and only) general scientific calc was crippled to meet that exam market (i.e. no I/O etc).

So either HP are incredibly naive about the "rest of the world" market, or they they know something about the general market we don't. Or possibly they just wanted to shoot for a lower risk "sure thing"?

Dave.


#22

What about cost and market saturation? That, to me, is the obvious reason HP didn't look to the "1. 06" outside. Look at the supersaturation of Casio FX 115 and 300 etc. And they cost $10/$15/$20 apiece.

So I am sure HP looked at the world market. What would give them the warm fuzzies about a large market for a calculator that costs 3 times what the most expensive Casio full-featured sciuentific costs?


#23

Quote:
What about cost and market saturation? That, to me, is the obvious reason HP didn't look to the "1. 06" outside. Look at the supersaturation of Casio FX 115 and 300 etc. And they cost $10/$15/$20 apiece.

So I am sure HP looked at the world market. What would give them the warm fuzzies about a large market for a calculator that costs 3 times what the most expensive Casio full-featured sciuentific costs?


Exactly. There is very little incentive to try IMO, and they already have a mass market scientifics in the SmartCalc 300 and 10S. Trying to do the same for just an RPN machine would likely be marketing suicide. That's why you need an angle or a gimmick. The retro 15C would be such a gimmick, and probably the only ace they have left up their marketing sleeve.

Dave.

#24

Quote:
What would give them the warm fuzzies about a large market for a calculator that costs 3 times what the most expensive Casio full-featured sciuentific costs?

With a rebranded "smart calc 300" or alike HP just sells a "me too" product not making a difference. But how about quality? And smart design? I admit these are old-fashioned criteria and features, so they will make a difference (and fit to the retro wave).

Ceterum censeo: HP, launch a 43S.

#25

Quote:
In the US, the largest single market for the HP-35S is probably among engineers and surveyors taking NCEES professional licensing exams. Only a few calculator models are approved for these exams, and the 35S is the most powerful.

That's not surprising considering that the 35S was designed specifically to meet that market requirement. It is highly likely that no other market segment was given anything but cursory consideration during the design of the 35S. And they made it retro because they wanted to do something for the anniversary, so it tied in nicely.

Dave.

#26

Quote:
...there is no market for a scientific calculator.

Does anyone here have an idea of the 35s sales figures?
Quote:
...does anyone really think HP will put resources into developing a new 15c if only 27 people will buy it? That's a no-brainer.

No, but perhaps they will if 27K will buy it.

#27

Martin, I've never seen HP publish it's calculator sales figures; it would be interesting to know how many 35s's have been sold.

As I recall, when HP built the original 35 they estimated only a few hundred would be sold, and the huge actual demand surprized them. But that was the first of a new breed. A re-issued 15c would probably only appeal to members of this forum, for example, a very limited segment.


#28

Quote:
Martin, I've never seen HP publish it's calculator sales figures; it would be interesting to know how many 35s's have been sold.

No, I didn't think so. But perhaps someone here has some inside information they could hint at.
#29

Quote:
Yes, the 12c+ and the 15c share the same hardware platform, but does anyone really think HP will put resources into developing a new 15c if only 27 people will buy it? That's a no-brainer.

Of course not.

As of last count, if you believe the website, over 50000 units would go like hot cakes.

I'd be willing to bet they'd sell a few hundred thousand.

Dave.


#30

And you believe that website, do you. I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

What you or I think matters not. If HP thinks there is money to be made, then we'll see it one day. Until then, it's just speculation.


#31

Quote:
And you believe that website, do you. I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

It's much closer to the mark than your joke figure of 27 units.

Yes, they would sell 50K easily, bet the farm on it. That's with no advertising. Get the unit blogged to death on the geek sites and have a good price point and that number could easily go into 6 figures.

If you don't think those numbers are realistic then you haven't really thought about it.

Take Walmart for example, they sell HP calculators. They have almost 8000 stores. For HP to get 15C stock into all those stores they'd have to make at least 50,000 of them. Would they sell'em all?, sure they would eventually.

Not to mention all the other stores and online shops around the world that sell calculators to the nerdly masses.

A figure of 50,000 is nothing in this business!

Quote:
What you or I think matters not. If HP thinks there is money to be made, then we'll see it one day. Until then, it's just speculation.

Yep, and I recon my speculation is much closer to the mark than yours :-P

Dave.


#32

Quote:
Take Walmart for example, they sell HP calculators. They have almost 8000 stores. For HP to get 15C stock into all those stores they'd have to make at least 50,000 of them. Would they sell'em all?, sure they would eventually.

Just how many HP35S units have you ever seen in Wal-Mart? Try zero! Do you really think that Wal-Mart would carry a "new" HP-15C? Just WHAT HP scientific calculator have you EVER seen in Wal-Mart except for the HP33S units that they could only sell though clearance a couple of years ago. The local Wal-Marts carry no HP calcs of any sort since clearing out the HP10BII for $5 a few months ago. Their experience with the HP33S and HP10BII can not have been very gratifying.

If they were foolish enough to carry some sort of HP-15C reincarnation, those that finally left the store would be just like the TI-89 (recently cleared at the local Wal-Mart for $72) and the Casio fx-9750GII (recently cleared at the local Wal-Mart for $23). There's no significant market for such an obsolete 29-year-old contraption, regardless of how much a very few have apparently deluded themselves thinking that there is.

The HP-15C is dead. RIP.


#33

I’m not quite ready to eulogize the HP-15C. The hardware may be a thing of the past, but when HP made virtual calculators available from the Apple Store I think they acknowledged the value and utility of the “obsolete 29 year old contraption.” This comes from a man who has a Soroban, Slide Rule, HP-35s, HP-50g, and of course a PC sitting on his desk. I don’t care how old something is, if it works and makes my life easier, I’ll keep it running as long as I can. Very respectfully, David

#34

Quote:
Anyone who thinks new engineers are going to buy engineering calculators is living in a dream world.

Put a modern version of a HP-41C infront of me with USB, SD card, and a multi-line display, I'll buy it in a heart beat. Does not even need to be able to program on the device if the programs are stored as text files named with the program name.

Since my own calculator project (ND&T-41) warped into a desktop unit (ND&T-91), after I'm done with it I will transfer what I like best of the bigger version to the small one. I hope to be able to get the desktop version work if not complete by September.

Biggest problem for HP today, atleast here in Canada you can get a graphing model from them for nearly the same retail price as the HP-35S. It in itself kills the market for scientific.

Dimitri

Edited: 22 Apr 2010, 7:39 a.m.


#35

Quote:
Put a modern version of a HP-41C infront of me with USB, SD card, and a multi-line display, I'll buy it in a heart beat. Does not even need to be able to program on the device if the programs are stored as text files named with the program name.

Sounds like a 50g. Do you mean you'd want it key-compatible with the 41C?
#36

Thanks for the replies everyone.

I've read through them twice and there's some very thoughtful and insightful responses.

I would say on the 15C, my feeling is that we wont see it being reissued. I would love to be wrong, but I don't think so. With more and more alternatives coming out for the calculator users, such as apps for phones, ipad, Pc's, etc, HP may feel that there isn't the return on investment that a 15C reissue would provide. I would dearly like to be wrong on this and if they did issue I would probably have my name down for 3 and then buy additional ones for presents. So I think that the reissue is going to be unlikely but I'll have my fingers and toes crossed.

I suppose in a way the scientific/engineering market is covered by the 35s and the 50g with only a completely non programmable rpn required to complete the line. Thing is though, I'm not sure if the people in the market for a basic calculator would justify bringing out another rpn calculator.

So my theory is that unless there is a HUGE grass roots campaign to get another scientific calculator we are going to be stuck with 35s and the 50g and maybe some slight tweaks to those.

Thoughts?

Edited: 22 Apr 2010, 1:36 p.m.


#37

My bet is that the 15c will be released as a limited edition (limited time) "retro-novel" (DaveJ) device, not really intended as a serious competitor. AND an all-new scientific based on the 30b platform will eventually replace the 35s, which will take its place a special short-term commemorative model.

#38

Quote:
I suppose in a way the scientific/engineering market is covered by the 35s and the 50g with only a completely non programmable rpn required to complete the line. Thing is though, I'm not sure if the people in the market for a basic calculator would justify bringing out another rpn calculator.

That's right, HP would have a hard time justifying just another general purpose basic RPN scientific calculator. So it would not surprise anyone (including me) if HP never do it. But if they *DO* do it the 15C is the only one that makes sense from a risk/marketing (and probably internal political) point of view.

In recent years HP have clearly aimed all of their calculators at very specific markets, and that's of course what you'd expect. The reason no general purpose RPN has been released is because there is no perceived market for it. And I'm sure most sensible people would agree that's most probable, considering the other big brands and the one-hung-low brands have that market sown up. And quite frankly the RPN factor does not sell.

HP's direction has been fairly clear on two fronts:

1) Niche market spaces
and 2) retro looks

The 15C hits both areas, so it's probably easy to sell internally and the risk is fairly minimal.

A scientific version of one of the new business platforms OTOH would require more development with clearly little or no retro appeal. So it's a bit of a lame duck idea, and I doubt you'll ever see one.

But hey, internal politics and marketing often change on a dime, so anything's possible.

Dave.


#39

Quote:
A scientific version of one of the new business platforms OTOH would require more development with clearly little or no retro appeal. So it's a bit of a lame duck idea, and I doubt you'll ever see one.

Three reasons why you may be wrong. First, the very existence of the 20b and 30b says to me that HP wants to keep in the calculator game. After all, why not just keep selling 12c's and 17bii+'s instead of developing a completely new series?

Second, "little or no retro appeal" is the point! These calculators (20b & 30b) have been deliberately styled more like other 21st century electronic devices. They remind me somewhat of the styling of HP notebook computers. The 35s was specifically styled to have retro appeal, otherwise has capabilities very similar to the 33s. So why not a new scientific series with an updated look but without the "over the top" look of the 33s?

Third, does it not strike anyone that the deliberate "re-purposing" capabilities designed into these new calcs might serve HP as well?


#40

Quote:
Three reasons why you may be wrong.

I do hope I'm wrong!

Quote:
First, the very existence of the 20b and 30b says to me that HP wants to keep in the calculator game. After all, why not just keep selling 12c's and 17bii+'s instead of developing a completely new series?

Maybe it's just the way big companies work. They may in fact be just keeping the calculator division as a throwback to the old days. Who really knows? They certainly are not "serious" about calculators given the number we've heard of people working in the department.

For HP as a global entity, the calculator division rates literally a few words in the annual report as one part of a subdivision of a division, that's how insignificant it is to them in terms of sales.

And as with any product department it's standard practice to keep at least some form of token development team (current a team of two?), and of course products will eventually pop out the other end of that.

Quote:
Second, "little or no retro appeal" is the point! These calculators (20b & 30b) have been deliberately styled more like other 21st century electronic devices. They remind me somewhat of the styling of HP notebook computers. The 35s was specifically styled to have retro appeal, otherwise has capabilities very similar to the 33s. So why not a new scientific series with an updated look but without the "over the top" look of the 33s?

Because an ordinary scientific calc won't sell very well, the market is too flooded. The 33S was only released to meet the exam market. For a more general market modern styling is not a big enough differentiator, and as I said the market doesn't really care about RPN. Retro on the other hand could be a significant differentiator if they want to re-enter the general purpose scientific calc market.

Quote:
Third, does it not strike anyone that the deliberate "re-purposing" capabilities designed into these new calcs might serve HP as well?

It certainly will, it's a positive differentiator. But unfortunately one that is limited to a very small and niche market.

Dave.


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