HP seems to have lost its Way


Why would a company deliberately throw away its competitive advantage?

Customers used to choose an HP calculator over the competition for two main reasons:

1) RPN

2) Ease of use coupled with good key feel and high-quality durable construction.

Any calculator from HP that does not rely on these strengths is doomed. The very successful HP-12C is perfectly aligned with HP's competitive edge. Compare this to the recently discontinued HP-6S (algebraic entry, poor construction, lousy key feel).

HP must either exit the calculator business entirely or else HP must rely on these two competitive strengths and try to return to greatness. There is no middle ground here. It is either one or the other for HP.


The fact is that there is no longer a large market for good quality programmable calculator.
During the 70-80's desktop computer were too much expensive so people bought calculator instead.
Nowadays most calculator users don't bother to program themselves.
Nevertheless, there is still a small demand for portable and powerfull calculating devices, mainly amongst engineers. And the adequate tools no longer exists.
There never have been a large market for oscilloscopes, surveying equipment and so on, but they still exists. These devices are expensive but people who need them buy them.
I wonder why HP didn't maintain a high quality line of calculators, even at higher prices in order not to lose money.
When you see the prices of used HP-67, 41, 15C, 42S, you can guess that HP could sold high quality & high priced calculators.

All the best, and sorry for my poor english



I agree with you Pierre. I started working for a French water treatment company here in Virginia in 1980. I used my HP41C to do a lot calculations and statiustical anaylysis for data. PC were very expensive and NOT portable at that time. I was able to travel all over the USA with my 41C as I did technical demonstrations of water treatment equipments to existing and potential clients. The advent of faster and cheaper PC overshadowed calculators that had previously enjoyed the status of being "personal computing devices" between mid 70s and the early 80s. PC also had very efficient mass storage and RAM specifications. Even today, while my HP49G and TI-200 can do cool numerical analysis calculations, I find my C++, VB, and C# programs able to run circles around the calculators (provided that I program these applications on the PC). I look at the high end HP and TI calculators as specialized handheld micros.

I guess it was Moliere (correct me if I am wrong) who said "The better is the enemy of the good".



Calculators had their finest hour when PCs were big, clumsy and expensive, that is true. But there are always problems you can handle with a calculator more efficiently than you would on a PC, even a portable one.

From my experience, for field work a well-programmed calculator (for instance, a 28, 41, 42 or 48) can beat a laptop PC or a PDA and endure much more abuse under harsh work conditions. And there will always be a need for such applications (and devices.) On the other hand, PC-based job design can quickly be confirmed with a calculator; a parameter that those nice software applications of today does not include on its results but is needed can be calculated on the way with a calculator.

Unfortunately HP has apparently shifted its interests from those little machines we use and love so much, but that is another story.

And correct me if I am (quite possibly) wrong, but Admiral Sergey Gorshkov liked to say that "better is the enemy of good enough."


>And correct me if I am (quite possibly) wrong, but Admiral >Sergey Gorshkov liked to say that "better is the enemy of >good enough."

You are correct, I learned this in (the United States) Navy.


Absolutely agree.
Just compare the HP48G series with the HP49G, this one has:
- a rubbishy keyword
- a cover that first slides to hard, later too smoothly
- a "garbage collector" that stops the calculator very often for several seconds.

I had to say in favor of HP (in Spain) that I was very annoyed for the pausing problem. They explain to me that there was no solution and accepted my calculator back returning me the money I had payed to the distributor.

When I returned back to the HP48G with the soft keyword and no appreciable pausing, it was a sort of relax.


F.Casanellas wrote:

"this one has: - a rubbishy keyword - a cover that first
slides to hard, later too smoothly - a "garbage collector" that stops the calculator very often for several seconds."

It seems the "garbage collector" isn't recursive. Else it
would have garbage-collected itself.
Anyway you did very properly indeed, returning your "garbage" item and "collecting" your money back.

And, BTW, it's "keyBOARD", not "keyWORD" :-)

Best regards from V.



Thank goodness it isn't "KeyBOAR", those things have tusks!

Tricky language English, idn't?

Greetings from an expatriate.


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