HP's Marketing...



#37

Hello all.

I wanted to ask this for a while but, now that it's been quite a while, the relevance of my question is even more logical. For at least three years now, when I would go to Staples or Office Depot in Southern California, the only HP models sold would be the business models. I remember seeing HP-48GXs, HP-20Ss, 32SIIs and HP-42Ss back in the day. While graphing & scientific TIs, Casios and Sharps were present, HP calcs of the same class were never on display. Being California, I'd think the availability would be robust as NY, TX and FL have large populations. So, why is it that the these models weren't available at my local Office Depot or Staples in CA?


Edited: 24 Aug 2012, 1:16 p.m.


#38

I would guess there's no demand for HP scientific calculators. I don't see many engineers in my profession using them anymore. Especially newer engineers. In fact I rarely pick up a calculator in my job as I use free42 most of the time now.


#39

There are definitely more TI calc on shelf than HP calc at most stores nowaday.

#40

I think some time in the process of moving the previous calculator division around the world, some scientific expertise must have got lost. And then HP was off, and it's a far longer journey to get the expertise established again. Looking at the well quantized calculator division of today, I may hope for some real scientific product (i.e. beyond the educational market) but I won't bet a lot on it. OTOH, since HP had to maintain the 12C all the years, some financial calculator expertise must have survived ... (and financial math is not as challenging ;-)

Well, and regarding the demand: if you abandon a market like high end scientific RPN calculators for decades, where shall the demand come from? There isn't anything you can replace like the old slide rules anymore. So it became a chicken-egg problem: no demand - no funds for market re-entry - no demand ...

Edited: 24 Aug 2012, 3:39 p.m.


#41

Well said!

#42

In addition, I have to sadly concede that aside from us loyals, RPN adherents and of the business professionals/previous HP-80, HP-22, 12C, 17, 18, 19B owners, who are conditioned to RPN, today's calculator buyers are seeing RPN as either a dinosaur or as foreign a language as Klingon.

So, given the choice, today's calc buyers (mostly students) are more likely to go to the familiar and user-friendly (AOS, DFE, EES) side of TI, Sharp, Casio.


Edited: 24 Aug 2012, 4:44 p.m.


#43

Quote:
...today's calculator buyers are seeing RPN as either a dinosaur or as foreign a language as Klingon.

I think I asked before, but would ask again: Could it be that rpn didn´t pass the test of time? IMHO, it didn´t; regardless who/what is to blame for.

I´m talking about physical calculators for real life, not emulators or apps. I´m a structural engineer, and I live with one calculator in my hand every single day, as every other structural engineer I have known so far (I´m talking about engineers from 75 to 25 years old)... Even when 99% of the design process is done using FEM with a computer, you work everyday on printed drawings with a calculator over them, either for the remaning 1% design needed or for reviewing the 99% FEM output, and I can bet no smartphone or tablet is suitable for that job. And apart from the old, and/or very hard-core users as me, no one else is using HP now.

I imagine that If I were still around by 2035, I would be alone (well, with some of you) with my old rpn HP-units , and no one around me even interested to see them...

Edited: 25 Aug 2012, 7:19 p.m.


#44

Let's see...in 2035 I will be 73 years old. OK, if I am still able to hold a calculator at that age you can bet I'll have an HP RPN in my hands.

#45

Quote:
Could it be that rpn didn´t pass the test of time? IMHO, it didn´t; regardless who/what is to blame for.

I´m talking about physical calculators for real life, ...


IMHO any system dropping out of evolution is going to be extinct. RPN evolution de facto stopped with the 42S. After that, there came only new cases for old stuff (33S) or bad copies (35S). No RPN calculator line as there were earlier. And the RPL calculators were (and are still) targeting students and young academic professionals - there isn't anything like a basic RPL calc for real world jobs.

I think the 4-level stack was a brilliant idea in 1970. Since one always has to be aware of possible stack overflows, however, it should have been expanded a bit. 8 levels as offered with the WP 34S are a de facto infinite stack for real number real world calculations. I had wished HP had launched that. With that (or something alike) I think RPN is a very good compromise between logical consistency and ease of use - a very user friendly system. But HP can't seriously expect lots of users (and customers!) jumping from TI algebraic to RPL.


#46

Quote:
But HP can't seriously expect lots of users (and customers!) jumping from TI algebraic to RPL.

If RPN had real world advantages in usability in the past, doesn't it still today? Couldn't this still be marketed as such?

( I am not referring to RPN v.s. RPL, but rather postfix v.s. infix. )


#47

Quote:
If RPN had real world advantages in usability in the past, doesn't it still today?

To me it has the advantage that I am used to it ;)
And when I started using RPN, it had the advantage that it was a very clear system. All the algebraics worked differently. You (or at least I) never quite knew which order they would calculate things in.
I believe this advantage of RPN has disappeared nowdays, as it is possible to enter the whole equation into the calculator and check it is correct before evaluating it.

#48

Quote:
If RPN had real world advantages in usability in the past, doesn't it still today? Couldn't this still be marketed as such?

IMHO it still has. As Harald wrote, it's a clear system. IMHO it is one of the two clearest available, as long as I'm not interested in equations but solutions. It could be marketed still. But, alas, it is not - for whatever reason :-(

#49

I bought my first RPN calculator earlier this year (35s) in order to investigate for myself whether there was any advantage to it. Prior to the 35s, one Casio and one Sharp all the calculators I had owned or used regularly were TIs (30, 83, 84, 89, 89 titanium). While I am still more comfortable performing many tasks with my TI89t, it is no longer the calculator I reach for first. I like RPN entry.

In the past I worked at a local college as a math tutor and looking back at that experience I wonder why educators do not more readily embrace RPN. Instead of teaching students calculator syntax ("you missed a parenthesis") to make the equation look like the one in the book, that time could be spent reinforcing the order of operations and actually teaching the students to become more self-reliant in doing the math. Seems like everybody wins.

For myself, a recently acquired 48sx is keeping me quite entertained and despite its relative slowness in many tasks I cannot help but think it is on its way to becoming my go to calculator.


#50

Quote:
In the past I worked at a local college as a math tutor and looking back at that experience I wonder why educators do not more readily embrace RPN. Instead of teaching students calculator syntax ("you missed a parenthesis") to make the equation look like the one in the book, that time could be spent reinforcing the order of operations and actually teaching the students to become more self-reliant in doing the math. Seems like everybody wins.

And that's part of engineering. Teaching them to blindly throw the numbers in the chute and turn the crank, ie, plug numbers into a pre-written equation, is not the way to make them understand, and it does not produce real engineers. What happens when they lose or forget the equation, or have an application for which there is no pre-written solution? They're lost. My 41 contains programs I wrote for the things I do frequently; but the majority of calculations I need to do come up without warning, and there is no equation in front of me. This is real life. Thinking about the problem, I figure out the steps as I go, whether it's to take A, raise it to the power of B, subtract C, divide the whole thing by D, add E... whatever-- you get the idea. I've hired a lot of technicians and a few engineers, and I give them all a little test, and I have to say I have never found an applicant who learned to do even basic circuit design in school and calculate circuit values. Somewhere--I wish I could find it now--I have an editorial I cut out from one of the industry magazines about this, saying that the industry is telling academia, "You are not turning out the kind of engineers we need. We need them to be able to do this, this, and this..." and academia responds, "Look, you know your field, and we know education. Leave the education to us, 'kay?", so the problem persists.


#51

Quote:
...or have an application for which there is no pre-written solution? They're lost.

And that is what I can observe every day :(
#52

Quote:
Teaching them to blindly throw the numbers in the chute and turn the crank, ie, plug numbers into a pre-written equation, is not the way to make them understand, and it does not produce real engineers.
My thoughts, almost my words. I've been expressing these same thoughts almost since I concluded my engineering course, and I felt as if I was preaching in the desert. I still think the same, preach the same, and after working as a (university) teacher, I found out that the school itself was somehow taken aside of the course of facts when administrators took the steering wheel in spite of the pedagogical warnings of the consequences of such acts. Why educators no longer embrace RPN as a teaching/learning platform? Because teaching/learning are no longer the very first premises in most schools worldwide.

Cheers.

Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 27 Aug 2012, 5:27 p.m.

#53

Part of the point being that there STILL seems to be demand for TIs and Casios...


#54

Well, but if you look at the size of the selection on shelf in stores it has continued shrinking for the past 10 years as well. Most places it is only a few pegs, with maybe a end case display at back to school time.

TW


#55

Yes. But still, HP marketing for calculators sucks, at least in my country. The HP39GII situation is a good example. According to the HP site, it is now available for sale in the country. But you simply do not know where to buy it. No list of resellers in the site; the "preferred partners" sell everything but calculators; sending mails to HP asking for a store which carries the damn thing is a waste of time (no reply); no phone help, expect for technical support.

One would presume that they would want to sell the thing. Big mistake. I have the will to buy it, the money is burning my pocket, I've made a considerable effort to try to find it, HP doesn't help, and I will probably have to resort to order it online, from abroad.

This situation is not a 39GII birth pain. The same will happen here with pretty much any model, except the 12C Platinum or 20B, since those financial models can be commonly found in the usual retail stores; the 10s is easily found, too :-( .

It just seems that no one at HP marketing is giving a damn to try to establish proper distribution channels for calculators (small as they may/might be), to reach the marketplace, or, at the very least, to receive willing costumers.

In contrast, the distribution channels for the TIs (or Casios) are very well established. If the model you want is not a regular in the retail stores, it takes you 5 seconds on TI's site to find a store carrying (or capable of ordering) it. Again, I'm only speaking of the situation in my country.

So, all is fine with the arguments involving eggs and chicken, the announced death of old ways, and the shrinking space for anachronic types of tools. But there is a much more basic truth: there is no point in producing anything, if zero effort is afterwards made to sell it.

Paulo

#56

Quote:
Well, but if you look at the size of the selection on shelf in stores it has continued shrinking for the past 10 years as well. Most places it is only a few pegs, with maybe a end case display at back to school time.

It appears to me that the ONLY calculator presence in stores such as Wal-Mart and Target is from TI and Casio, with a much smaller presence from Casio. The last time there was any presence of an H-P product in those stores was with the HP-35s.

In the local Wal-Mart (Brevard, NC) there are presently THREE large displays for The TI product line. One is in the usual calculator area, one is near the entrance and one is in the school supply area.

I think that the issue is very straightforward -- H-P simply hasn't been able to crack the educational market. Or in other words, TI has a lock on the educational market. That is what they set out to do some twenty years ago, and that is what they have done.

#57

> There STILL seems to be demand...

Yes, there is. It's a big market, actually. What, something like 900 million in the USA alone. Almost going entirely to TI, with Casio and Sharp a distant 2nd and 3rd. HP maybe in 4th?

I hate that it's this way.

#58

I think it's all about the educational market. People will continue to use what's familiar and if you get them using brand XYZ in high school, they'll continue using it as long as they need a calculator.

TI has managed to embed itself in the educational market by getting itself into the text books and marketing to the teachers.

I still think that we, the user community, could do a service to HP by creating documentation on how to use an HP calculator in various popular math text books. At least then teachers and students will have some hope of using them in the classroom.


#59

TI "owns" the educational market for calculators in the US for several reasons, some of which you have mentioned:

  1. TI has worked with math textbook publishers to get TI-specific calculator content into the books.
  2. TI offers deals to school systems for bulk purchases of its products.
  3. TI has a nationwide support system in place to help teachers in the classroom.
  4. TI offers seminars and professional development (PD) classes to teachers that count toward the required PD hours each teacher must complete during the year.
  5. Lastly, though some on this forum may disagree, the TI-83/84 series calculators are good products. They are easy to operate and are built well enough to withstand typical student abuse. I've been using the same TI-84+ silver edition calculator for almost 10 years now and it still works fine, and I have three or four TI-83 plusses that also work fine after many years.
Given all of these reasons, it would be very difficult for HP to compete in this market.

It seems to me that the technology in education in the US will change drastically in the future. Some schools, and school systems, are using iPad's and Android-based tablets instead of paper textbooks, and it's only a matter of time before the schools figure out that if a student carries around an iPad instead of all those books, why not use a math app instead of a physical calculator. The TI calculators have been cash cows for TI for quite a long time, but I believe the future lies in apps. Whether HP (or even TI) could compete in that market, I don't know; apps cost a lot less than $100 for a textbook or a calculator.


Edited: 25 Aug 2012, 10:58 a.m.


#60

> using iPad's and Android-based tablets instead of paper textbooks

A textbook can open out to a larger area than a tablet.

A physical calculator can be used beside the textbook, whereas a virtual calculator can obscure the virtual textbook by popping up on top of the limited tablet screen real-estate.

A tablet calculator can take more physical desk space than a physical calculator if you still have a real textbook and an exam paper on the same little desk.

Do tablets have enough battery power to last for 8 hours of steady use throughout a school day? Maybe they got a grant to install DC power at each desk.

So I wonder how it's working out for those schools which have gone tablet instead of textbooks.


#61

Quote:
So I wonder how it's working out for those schools which have gone tablet instead of textbooks.

I don't know. I tutored a student who is a senior in high school now, and he told me recently that his school is issuing an Android-based tablet to each student this year, presumably to contain the textbooks. I'll have to ask him how that worked at the end of the year.


#62

Certainly it's a welcome advantage that students have to carry less. And updating's easier. But it will become difficult laying two books next to each other for a quick survey ;-)


#63

And, for publishers, it has the tremendous advantage of killing the used textbook market, which is why they're pushing it so much.

Edited: 28 Aug 2012, 10:30 p.m.

#64

I have recently been exploring TI's product philosophy in the form of an NSpire CAS - an early model with the interleaved alpha keys but OS version 3.2 installed.

The telling point for me was that I actually dithered over the purchase of this device, despite it being in mint condition and priced at 25 GBP! Knowing that the on-board Basic language has been intentionally crippled nearly put me off buying it for next to nothing (no Getkey style I/O; a great screen but not pixel graphics addressable).

I like that eccentric keyboard; I admire the powerful maths curriculum features and the thing is nicely built... but it leaves me cold, just as I knew it would. It is just too sealed up and purpose-constrained by its makers. It seems almost that TI's prime directive is to stop year 9 kids programming their own Pong and Moonlander games - which, in my opinion, is just what those kids should be doing.

Give 'em an HP39GII instead, says I.

Then they could really have some fun.

I am not sure about their marketing, but HP's product philosophy works for me.

Edited: 26 Aug 2012, 1:26 p.m.

#65

Quote:
I still think that we, the user community, could do a service to HP by creating documentation on how to use an HP calculator in various popular math text books. At least then teachers and students will have some hope of using them in the classroom.

I'd say your heart is in the right place. But the prospect of
a company succeeding in spite of its marketing doesn't seem like
a sustainable approach.


#66

Quote:
I'd say your heart is in the right place. But the prospect of
a company succeeding in spite of its marketing doesn't seem like
a sustainable approach.

You can complain about the current marketing as much as you want, but the current marketing team really isn't the problem. The problem goes back to business decisions by HP which must have been made twenty years ago. At the time TI made a conscious business decision to develop and pursue the educational market. There was nothing secretive about that decision. HP's engineering team must have known about it. They essentially chose not to compete for that market. Casio chose to compete. The result is that today TI and Casio control the pre-college calculator market.

#67

Quote:
TI made a conscious business decision to develop and pursue the educational market.

My TI-30 came with a book called "The Great International Math on Keys Book" or something like that. Later versions were called "Student Calculator Math Book". This book both motivated and taught me enough in 6th grade to get into the most advanced middle school math track possible, which continued all the way through college.

I think I read somewhere on this forum a while ago that these days the stores don't want printed manuals and books included with calculators because they take more room on the display case. How sad.


#68

Quote:

I think I read somewhere on this forum a while ago that these days the stores don't want printed manuals and books included with calculators because they take more room on the display case. How sad.


Without the full printed manuals something like the HP50G is only half a product. I would guess that nobody has ever bought an HP50G who would not have happily paid 40 dollars more to get a decent full manual in the box.

Edited: 27 Aug 2012, 9:31 a.m.

#69

HP probably won't ever be able to get back to the edu market again. What they should do is exploit their "cult status" by reviving old calc and putting out limited editions ;).. They need to have a redo of 42s.. and improve on it even more.


#70

Probably not going to happen. It's going to be up to the "cult" to make their own devices. The WP34S or the DM-cc series come to mind.

#71

That's one I'd love to add to my collection. Just like I've got a '72 35, I would also have, an original 35 and its 35th anniversary tribute. So yes, an original 42s with its update would make for an significant pair.


#72

One of the unique attributes of the 42s is the dot matrix lcd display for a "non graphic" calc. This allows for easily created menu system as well as several other features including small graphs. I haven't seen that in too many other calc since then... Even these new calcs with multi line displays nowaday are usually of the cheaper easier made segmented lcd not dot matrix.

Of course, the firmware behind the 42s is also very good.


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