he new iPad Pro and iPhone XS Max cost me over
$3,000—quite the premium for new tech! However,
Apple wasn’t the first tech company to go this route; in
fact, the tech giant’s high standards and high prices have their
roots in the time Steve Jobs spent working for Hewlett Packard.
In 1967, a 12-year-old Jobs contacted HP’s CEO Bill Hewlett to
ask for spare computer parts. After chatting for 20 minutes,
Hewlett offered him a summer job in Cupertino, California.
At HP, Jobs likely imbibed the “HP Way,” a philosophy of high
achievement and contribution, flexibility, and innovation. Like
Apple, HP was famous for its superb engineering and attention
to physical design. I see my new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iPhone
XS Max as the current incarnations of the original HP machines.
In the early 1980s, I worked for Hewlett Packard at that
same location. As engineers, we created state-of-the-art, high-tech computing tools to empower our professional customer
base. HP’s innovative use of touchscreens and calculator-like
solid-state storage for computers proved years ahead of its
time. The company’s calculator division in Corvallis, Oregon,
grew its calculators into laptops and palmtops, building a suite
of productivity apps into solid state memory. Users could also
install third-party apps into memory, greatly expanding the
possibilities of HP mobile devices. The HP laptop and palmtops were self-contained devices that could run on battery
longer than a day.
After seeing the cost of HP computers and accessories, HP
customers would half-jokingly lament that HP stood for “High
Price.” Apple users have the same experience. In addition to the
$3,000 plus for my new iPhone and iPad, the combined price
of AirPods ($159), the Apple Pencil ($129), and the Keyboard
Folio ($199) for my 12.9-inch iPad Pro was almost $400. Last
year’s Apple Pencil won’t even work on my new iPad.
Unfortunately, despite their many strengths, HP and Apple
devices aren’t perfect. When HP introduced its portables and
palmtops, reviewers observed that the software was not up
to the capabilities of the state-of-the-art hardware. We hear
that same critique about the new iPad Pro. Despite its su-
per-powered processor, which is faster than over 90 percent
of today’s laptops, the tablet’s software still lacks many lap-
top-like features. According to rumors, iOS 12 was going to
provide the iPad with a number of these. However, because
of iOS 11’s instability, the focus of iOS 12 became usability. In
recent travels, I tried using my new iPad as a laptop. While the
screen quality and speed were exceptional and typing on my
Keyboard Folio was OK, I found having to use iOS versions of
several key apps and multitask with only two static windows
to be limiting. Additionally, although Apple reduced the dimen-
sions and weight of the previous model, my 12.9-inch iPad Pro
is heavier and bulkier than smaller iPads. I could use it while
crunched in coach on the plane, but I would have been better
off with the 11-inch iPad Pro.
That being said, I like being maxed out. My new iPhone and
iPad prove that the best things come in small packages, in this
case large screens and lots of storage that you can hold in the
palm of your hand. So was it worth upgrading my iPhone and
iPad to the latest versions? Given how I use them, probably not.
Yet, as the founder of this publication and an unabashed 35-year
fan of fun, useful, powerful mobile technology, absolutely! �
High Standards, High Prices: How HP Inspired Apple
Hal, along with his wife Rita, founded i Phone Life’s original publishing company, Thaddeus Computing, in 1985. You can reach him at email@example.com. Check out Hal’s
new book at meditatingentrepreneur.com.
“I see my new 12.9-inch iPad
Pro and iPhone XS Max as
the current incarnations of
the original HP machines.”
Illustration by Mikaila Maidment, mikailamaidment.com