Hunting the Wily HP Linux Laptop
SilliconValley.com wrote on 3 August 2004:
HP launches Linux-based notebook
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - In a sign the Linux operating system may
be gaining traction beyond servers and other back-room systems,
Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday it will be the first major PC maker
to ship a business notebook computer pre-installed with the open-source
The HP notebook is available in North America through HP's online store
and to international customers on request. Fink said the launch is a test
"so that we can see the take up we get for this particular product."
One good test of whether a company is serious about selling a Linux laptop
is to try ordering one from their online store. Go try it yourself now!
As you look for the page that lets you order a Linux laptop from HP,
keep track of how many mouse clicks it takes, and how long it takes.
I tried this myself in late August 2004.
Which of the following three scenarios do you think
most closely describes my shopping experience?
Scenario 1: What Shoppers Would Like
Total clicks: 2
- In a search engine, or the search box on HP's web site,
search for hp linux laptop. The first hit that comes back is
the "customize it" page that lets you customize and purchase the HP Linux Laptop.
Total time: under 1 minute
Likelihood: in your dreams.
Scenario 2: What the HP Webmaster must have wanted users to do
Total clicks: 8
- Go to www.hp.com
- Search for "linux"
- Click on first hit, "Learn about Linux supported systems and solutions"
- Click on "Platforms and Printers"
- Scroll down and click on "Desktops/Notebooks"
- click on "HP Compaq Notebooks"
- Scroll down and see that one notebook has a check mark, click on that one
- Click on "buy online"
Number of times had to scroll down a page: 2
Total time: 5 minutes (including wrong turns)
Likelihood: maybe, if you're lucky. I wasn't.
Scenario 3: painful shopping experience
Total time: about half an hour.
- Go to www.hp.com
- In "Search HP" box, type "linux laptop"
- No laptop found. Go back to main page.
- Click on "Notebooks and Tablet PCs".
- Click on first link under "Home and Home Office", namely "HP Pavillion Notebook PCs"
This takes you to hpshopping.com.
- In Search box, type "linux".
No hits at all. Say to self "Oh, seems HP doesn't actually offer any Linux systems for sale."
Give up on hp.com, go to google.com, search for "HP linux laptop".
First result at top (sponsored) is
Say to self "But I already checked there, and they don't have any."
www.hpshopping.com Free Shipping on orders over $250 Official HP Store
Then remember (or see in one of the summaries) that the model number of the new HP linux laptop
is nx5000. Go to hpshopping.com and search for that model.
No dice. So it seems the NX5000 is not available for purchase online
at HP's official store.
Just in case, though, go back to hp.com and search for "nx5000".
Miracle of miracles, it's there.
- Click on "product overview",
- Click on the big red "Configure and Buy" button.
That brought me to a page that didn't mention Linux at all, but
did have a "Customize" button. So I clicked that.
That brought me to a page which let you customize some things,
but not the operating system, which was fixed at "Microsoft Windows XP Professional".
This made me think "Oh, you have to talk to a fancy salesperson and
special order the Linux version".
Dejectedly noodle around on the HP site for another ten minutes.
- Notice that the nx5000 product overview page has *more than one* customize button - it has five!
They're all labelled "HP Compaq Business Notebook nx5000" and differ only in speed and size of RAM and hard drive.
- Click on second "Customize" button. No dice, it doesn't let you choose Linux.
- Go back.
- Click on third "Customize" button. No dice, it doesn't let you choose Linux.
- Go back.
- Click on fourth "Customize" button. No dice, it doesn't let you choose Linux.
- Go back.
- Click on fifth "Customize" button. Bingo!
Number of clicks: 20 to 50
Likelihood: All too likely. This was pretty close to my real experience.
Martin B. wrote:
lol, before reading the page to the end i tried looking first, and i
actually managed to get the first 6 steps in scenario 2.
then i missed that checkmark as an indication of being the one that is
sold with linux and so i got lost instead.
An HP exec wrote:
no soup for me.
Thanks for the feedback, I've forwarded the URL to folks who hopefully know
how to get the situation improved.
Room for Improvement
Ordering that Linux laptop from HP was almost impossible for me.
If I wasn't determined, I would have given up several times.
If the shopping experience is any guide, HP's experiment in selling Linux laptops will
fail miserably because nobody will be able to figure out how to order one!
Here are some suggestions for HP:
If HP can implement even a few of those suggestions, their
linux laptop experiment might go a little smoother.
- Make 'laptop' a synonym for 'notebook' in your search engine.
Maybe it's just me, but I never use the word 'notebook' when thinking about laptop computers.
- Add a prominent link on www.hp.com/linux
saying "HP now sells Linux laptops!" with a direct link to
- In the "Configure and Buy" page for the nx5000
mention the word Linux at least once, preferably next to the link to the
page that lets you order with Linux, and make it clear users have
to scroll down to find it. Or better yet, get rid of the need to scroll
In HP's Google AdWords campaign for "HP Laptops", add the keyword Linux, and
send clicks on the "HP Linux Laptops" ad to a site that can sell them to
you, instead of to a site that does not once contain the word Linux, and sells no Linux computers.
- On hpshopping.com, when a
user searches for Linux, for goodness' sake send them to a page
where they can buy the HP Linux Laptop, instead of saying "no results for Linux".
And what the heck, how 'bout putting a link to the Linux laptop on
the front page of hpshopping.com, even if it's sold from some other site?
Update: HP Thinks It Got The Marketing Wrong
On 16 Mar 2007, ZDNet UK reported in
"Top five PC manufacturers fail naked PC test" that it was unable
to purchase PCs without Windows from any of the five major PC vendors --
even the three that claim to sell them. HP was quoted, however, as
being interested in having another go at selling a Linux PC:
"We carried out a test marketing exercise and made Linux PCs available to users," explained Peter Murray, director of enterprise server and storage at HP. "It was disappointing and we had very little interest. We looked at the exercise and we think we may have got the marketing wrong so we are trying it again."
Last Change 16 Mar 2007
(C) Dan Kegel
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