Even With The Novel Sprout, HP Just Can’t Win

By all accounts HP announced something truly innovative today. The Sprout by HP is a mind-blowing mash-up of desktop computer, 3D scanner and touchscreen. It effectively pushes the desktop medium forward more so than anything produced in recent memory.

But the Sprout is from HP.

Imagine if Apple had announced the Sprout. The media would be going bonkers. Word about it would be on every evening news program. Fanboys would be beside themselves, crying out that Apple is finally doing Steve Jobs justice.

Yet HP made the Sprout. It’s the same company that produces an obscene number of indistinguishable Windows computers and still gets a giant chunk of its revenue from printer ink. I don’t trust HP to innovate. And it all comes down to that trust when trying something new.

Over the last 10 years or so, HP lost much of the goodwill it had with consumers. It simply isn’t a brand known to produce tantalizing products. HP is on the verge of being the GE of consumer electronics. Need a new laptop for the non-computer-savvy person in your life? Go down to Walmart and get an HP. It will work just fine. Buy a new one when it breaks.

Apple has a¬†track record of producing products and interfaces that are ready for general consumption. Not since the original iPhone has Apple used consumers to test something unproven. And that’s exactly what HP is doing with the Sprout.

The Sprout needs vast developer support to be a viable system. It needs Adobe and Autodesk. It needs Wacom and N-Trig support. It needs startups like Paper to produce applications to match the innovative controls.

Moreover, Sprout needs a company that knows how to lure developers to its platform and give them the tools needed to be successful. HP needs to think like Apple. But I fear it’s too late.