False Promises: Another HP Marketing Ploy (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 04 Aug 2004

False Promises: Another HP Marketing Ploy

The SF Chronicle this morning had a little note headlined, "HP first to introduce Linux-based laptop".

Aside from the obvious error in "first" (the article itself admits that several smaller manufacturers have been selling linux laptops for quite some time), I wondered if this was real, or just another of HP's attempts to get credit for supporting Linux without actually risking Microsoft's wrath by selling any product.

So I went to HP's web site. No mention on the top level, so I tried searching for "linux laptop" and got nothing useful. So I did some clicking around to find the particular model mentioned in the article (nx5000) and eventually found it (under business systems). That listing did indeed list SuSE as an OS option. But clicking through to buy or customize the machine took me to screens where Windows XP was the only option, and the lowest price was the Windows price (the Linux price is supposed to be $60 lower).

Later, it occurred to me that HP calls them "notebooks" rather than "laptops", so I went back and searched for "linux notebook". This gave several false hits, including a page on "Linux solutions from HP" with a link to "Products", which eventually leads me to a page where they're apparently offering drivers, but no hardware. An excellent example of Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox topic this week, "Deceivingly Strong Information Scent Costs Sales".

The search also led me to a press release which was obviously the basis for the Chron article, and a generic "Business Products" page that looks like one I probably already went through in my search earlier today that led to screens offering only Windows XP.

I can only conclude that this is another fakie HP marketing ploy to claim to be supporting linux, while having no intention of actually offering it. Mark my words, in a few months HP will announce that it's no longer offering this option because strangely, customers didn't buy very many of them. (HP has pulled this prank three or four times before, with desktop machines.)

I very much hope HP proves me wrong this time, and updates its sales pages to offer the OS option its press release is claiming.

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[ 18:40 Aug 04, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]