Dec 13th saw the blogger community of Karachi gather with great gusto for the Hp bloggers meet up. An eventÂ scheduled at par with the launch of the new Hp mini series in Pakistan and a discussion forum on how to sell/market the product better. The event was organized by the Emagine group who were I might add, very ably led by Mr Khalid who not only supervised simultaneous events in Isloo and Lahore for Hp, but was organized enough to tell us all a week in advance and get in touch with many of us on core issues and feedback. For the purpose of review, Hp minis were also provided to the selected panel and were demoed and reviewed by Mr Imran of Ithinkdiff.com at this meet up.
Without going into a blow by blow of what took place at the event as I feel that the discussion is better left to where it ends rather than rehash it all over, I still feel it pertinent to talk about what was lacking in this presentation as well as what was good about it.
- The Fact that Emagine and Hp put all these events together to meet the bloggers of Pakistan as well as take some honest feedback from them has to be lauded. The bloggers specially all of us at the Karachi meet up were a very tough crowd and it takes some gusto and a very thick skin to absorb the flak coming in from all directions. However the panel and the moderator stood tall and tried to handle everything and absorb the incoming missiles in a positive manner.
- The mini notebooks in discussion were present at the premises and were handed around after the demo so that everyone could get a good look at what is what, by what I have been told by Mr Khalid they are also going to be available for review in the coming week so all of us can tinker with them and give more relevant feedback on the actual device. This to me is a big step from the usual corporate approach of “please write a good review for us” This is excatly how reviews should be organized and carried out and thus I felt this initiative was also superb.
- From what I saw of the device the most vibrant feature in it was neither the compactness or the style or the specs but the option of a single interface which is able to run many social networking tools as well as messengers and skype with video without going into or booting up windows at all. Basically when you turn on the Hp mini it first boots a proprietary interface which lets the user do all of the above mentioned tasks without actually booting windows which if one wants is achieved from a button on this interface. This is huge, as it means the entire systems resources and memory are available for these tasks without tackling the bill gates Frankenstein. It means that a student can perform what they actually do with a notebook without wasting time or battery. To my knowledge NO other mini notebook has this feature to date!
- Also of interest was the cloud feature on offer with this mini, with a cloud/ online space of 2 gigs per users free by HP, not as much as google gives but not bad at all to sweeten the deal!!
- From a purely marketing standpoint as well as with information decimation one has to take care of the fact that what is being talked about is in working order, the mini passed around after the demo hung twice and that did not leave a good impression. Although it may have even been a device specific problem but hey, when consumers try a tech tool and it freezes pffft!
- The panel, without taking any names here although very tech savvy didn’t actually look very gung ho or sold on the device they were reviewing.Â They didn’t look as if they were very convinced with what they were trying to convince us off! In fact at one point one of them was actually trying to tell me that I cannot blog from my phone, well I can and this blog is being written on my Iphone in the middle of a shadi..so there. Below you will even see one of them tell me its a better idea to buy a dell on camera…another big minus. (although kudos to the management for trying new fresh faces)
- There was also some confusion on pricing with the Emagine moderator Mr Khalid saying one thing while the Hp rep totally contradicting him, which led most of the audience to wonder exactly how coordinated was this presentation. Many of the questions regarding warranty were also brushed aside which I felt were very relevant to the discussion as when a consumer asks a company rep about warranty he doesn’t want to be told we can send you 17 pages of tnc’s and conditions. The rep on the table should have been able to give us a simple picture of what is covered and what is not.
First rule of engagement with a crowd this tech savvy and opinionated as well as resourceful is not to sound arrogant which I am sorry to say the Hp rep came across as. As a Management Information Systems major I was quite aghast at how the audience was told phrases like “Lets not talk about that model as it is 1 and a half times the price of this one” and “There is a difference between buying a Ferrari and a corolla” When many of the people sitting in the audience were holding apple air books worth about six times what was on display and consisted of the who’s who of the Pak blogging community with a daily readership in the thousands. The whole point of holding a discussion like this with opinion makers in New media is to try to woo them not make them feel as if they have no clue of what is on the table before them. Frankly if the same sort of exercise would have occurred in say a larger or a more international forum, Hp would right now be the laughing stock of the notebook industry. Not exactly the way to go for a marketing exercise….
On the whole though the meet up was very productive, I am sure Hp would have gotten some ideas from the discussion and we all got to see whats coming to the mini notebook market in Pakistan. I for one cannot wait till I get the chance to review one of these notebooks and put it through its paces. Below I am embedding some video clips of the candid reviews I took from some of the bloggers on scene which might help enlighten the Hp team some more as to what people thought.
Thanks for the interviews you did, great to see so many people I follow on Twitter and befriend on Facebook. Hope you forgive me for my lack of interest in HP products but the arrogance of the HP rep is certainly disappointing.
Khalid’s manner of discussion may have helped me get rid of my bias against HP’s computers (which were fine prior to Compaq acquisition). However, “Monotone Guy” killed it for me so much that I didn’t even care to see the demo (that and a deadline given by my better half :p ).
I did like the idea of a “net mode” option though which may be the selling point if I ever buy a device that size.
Thanks so much for the honest feedback. As I said that day, we believe in the voice of the bloggers and the power you have to influence and form opinions. When brands live in a sheltered world, they can behave however they choose, but when you reach out to the most active and vibrant part of the emerging media world, you have to be ready to take the harsh pill along with the sugar.
More importantly, you highlighted the point that we wanted to reach out to the bloggers to develop a respectful relationship which we can count on one community to give us honest feedback on HP products and services. Brands don’t grow when they live sheltered lives.
Thanks for coming to the event and sharing your thoughts and suggestions. That was the intent of the event.
Good honest post and a good reply by Khalid.
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