If you talk to any of the major PC OEMs off the record about Microsoft you'll get the same response: they are frustrated. They are frustrated that the Vista launch went the way it did, they are frustrated with Microsoft's lack of action in addressing major issues that exist today and they are frustrated that the most innovative player in the PC space right now happens to be Apple.

Microsoft's answer to any present day complaints from the major OEMs about Vista is to wait for Windows 7, but by now these manufacturers have heard this before. After all, when the OEMs first started to feel the heat from Apple and OS X, Microsoft said to wait for Vista.

When the major players first started asking me what they should be doing from a design standpoint I kept pointing them to Apple. Apple had the blueprints to successful product design available for purchase; anyone at Dell, HP or Gateway could easily pickup a MacBook and figure out a way to make something at least remotely competitive. The problem that plagues the Dells of the world however is that they don't control the software stack the way Apple does, they are still at Microsoft's mercy.

These PC OEMs could either wait for Microsoft to deliver with Windows 7 and hope that it will be enough to compete with Apple, or begin to try and solve the problem themselves. ASUS is actually a great example of where these OEMs are headed; while the Eee PC and Eee Box are available with Windows XP, Linux is also offered at a lower price point. Going one step further, before you ever boot into Windows on many ASUS motherboards you have the option of launching Splashtop for quicker access to IM, the web or Skype. While these are mostly unpolished attempts at freeing OEMs from being Microsoft dependent, this is just a starting point. I'm not suggesting that PCs in the future will be completely devoid of Microsoft software, there will simply be another option.

HP noticed this same Microsoft dependency issue, just like the rest of the PC OEMs and over the coming years you're going to see companies like HP and Dell become more like Apple, offering systems as complete packages of hardware and software solutions. We'll see broader adoption of Linux and open source software and finally some out of the box thinking.

HP held an event last month in San Francisco to demonstrate a myriad of new products, some of which are clear indications of this new Apple-like focus.

The New Voodoo

Under two years ago HP acquired Voodoo PC, a boutique PC manufacturer that built mostly high end gaming PCs. A few days ago, the existing Voodoo PC site started burning down - signifying a dramatic change in the HP/Voodoo relationship.

It's the new Voodoo

Many were worried that after the acquisition, HP would simply corporatize Voodoo and the brand would be lost forever. If anything, Voodoo has had more of an impact on HP than the opposite. While we still get the impression that Voodoo must fight to continue to operate the way it wants to (which is to be expected in any large corporation), so far the results aren't anything to complain about.

Going forward, the HP/Voodoo relationship is going to work as follows:

Gaming PCs will be built by HP under the brand "HP with Voodoo DNA". The first of these machines was the Blackbird 002 and I'm told that we can expect much more with the Voodoo DNA brand in the coming months and years. One eventual goal being to bring some of the Blackbird experience down to much more reasonable price points.

The Voodoo brand will stop servicing gamers specifically and turn into much more of a lifestyle brand. The focus of Voodoo will be building the sort of out of the box designs that we commonly look to Apple for. The fact that the most innovative PC maker is Apple spells trouble for the Dells and HPs of the world; Voodoo is attempting to change that, at least a little.

The first products out of the new Voodoo are the Envy 133 and the new Omen.

The Most Mac-Like PC Notebook Ever Made: The Envy 133
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • hamiltonguy - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    hi there,
    i am glad you are having a good experience with dell. I am actually an IT manager at a mid-sized company and have primarily purchased dell for the past 5 years. I am replying on a dell xps 1530. I do however, stand by my comments about dell support. We have approximately 300 dell pcs plus servers and desktop/laptop support gets worse every year -to the point where it is almost unbearable to call them.

    As for crapware, dell is no where near as bad as HP, but Works, google toolbar, symantec av 90 day, crippled roxio, google desktop are crapware and I don't want them on mt system.

    Dell support website is ok. Dell's automatic driver update tool is a joke. it can't identify your video card, nic, wifi card etc. it brings you a list of all of them, and there are a tonne.

    As for Mac OS, i am not a mac basher, I use leopard occasionally at work and it's ok, just not my cup of tea. I do however love ilife.

    I just don't see the innovation. Apple can do somrthing as simple as a mag connector for a power supply and people say coooool! why, it's new, it works, and no one else has it. Dell and HP don't need to re-invent the wheel just think outside the box.

  • CSMR - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    Yes the OS is not apple's key advantage, it's the system designs. How many people would buy a apple system inside a dell case over an identical windows dell? Some, but not many. Apple's advantage is a nice combination of hardware in good form factors with simple designs, painted white.

    This is exactly what the OEM manufacturers could do if they want: produce good windows systems in good form factors with simple designs, and paint them white. :)

    The OEMs can easily compete with apple by producing a range that focuses on style and simplicity: forget about appealing to the aesthetic tastes of gamers and leave out the legacy connectors and supporting chips: leave these to other ranges.
  • segerstein - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    There are two computer companies that I really admire: one is HP, the other is Sun.

    They both make excellent computers, HP printers, scanners, while Sun's Solaris is top notch.

    Apple is for shallow people :-$
  • michael2k - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    If Apple is for shallow people, what is the Envy, Omen, and Touchsmart for? Rich, shallow people?
  • krnmastersgt - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    I'll agree with some of those points, but Vista had a horrid launch, there's no arguing that, most programs couldn't even run on Vista until SP1 or a rewritten and updated code for the programs was released. Even Microsoft's own Visual Studio had problems running. Sure, some stuff is the hardware and looks, but if MS can't even have all of its programs and apps from the past run well or even at all on Vista, you can't expect the majority of developers out there to like it very much. Most people I know who've used Vista have switched back to XP, and so have a lot of people I've only talked to. That spoke volumes to me.
  • Griswold - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    "... there's no arguing that, most programs couldn't even run on Vista until SP1 or a rewritten and updated code for the programs was released."

    Yes there is arguing about that because its a truckload of bullshit. Most programs ran and run just fine. Fact. End of debate. There were and still are crappy written programs that cause trouble or wont run at all... so what? If you depend on that particular piece of shit software, run it in a (free) virtual machine of your choice with your previous edition of windows...problem solved.

    Please stop talking about vista when you obviously never touched it for more than 5 minutes and depend on "what you heard" on some forum...

  • Steve Guilliot - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    It gets even better. We all remember Apple's migration to x86 and Rosetta. Old apps either crashed or used 5x memory while running 5x slower. Almost all of the biggest software titles were affected until they could produce a native x86 binary, which often took a year or longer.

    Now let's talk about the blame-Microsoft BS floating around. The pro-Mac sentiment created by Apple's admitedly supperior industrial design, combined with the "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" commercials, is being transferred to MacOS. This is swelling the pro-Mac bandwagon, while increasing the anti-MS hype. Anand has apparently succumbed. PC's are not being held back by Vista. They are being held back by inferior industrial design.

    Bashing Microsoft is just trendy. Most geeky bloggers and webauthors will find a way to either attack MS, or compliment it with a backhanded insult, even if the issue at hand has nothing to do with MS. For a good example, see the intro to this very article.
  • preslove - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Now let's talk about the blame-Microsoft BS floating around. The pro-Mac sentiment created by Apple's admitedly supperior industrial design, combined with the "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" commercials, is being transferred to MacOS.

    You sir, are an idiot. Every single mac switcher I've talked to raves about OSX. It is the reason Apple is successful, not the design. The design obviously helps, but having an awesome OS is what differentiates Apple from every one of its competitors.
  • Steve Guilliot - Saturday, June 14, 2008 - link

    Mac users raving over OSX doesn't contradict my point, it's because of my point. How many Mac users are going to spend big money on a Mac and then compain about OSX? They bought into the Mac lifestyle, and viewing everything Apple in the most favorable light goes with the territory. OTOH, there is no Microsoft lifestyle to buy into or identify with.

    Apple really started taking off with the iPod success (wow, no OSX). Then Apple released the unbelievable cool MacBook Pros (they still appear in almost every TV show and movie today, and don't say it's becuase of OSX). Then the restyled iMacs and MacPros. Now the MacBook Air, again being driven 99.99% by design. Almost everything Apple is renowned for is hardware related. The popularity of OSX follows as a result. It's a good OS, without any major objections. Just good enough to not impede the desireability of the hardware.

    On the otherhand, you've offered a thin (and unconvincing) line of anectdotal evidence to conclude I'm and idiot...

    Sir indeed.
  • Thorsson - Monday, June 16, 2008 - link

    LOL. No using logic with a fanboi.

    Anyone who doesn't understand the importance of marketing needs to study the success of brands like Coca Cola and Budweiser. Did they get to be successful through having superior products?

    Guys & Gals, Apple has sold you a lifestyle. And you want it.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now