This is part 4 of the mini-series on the HP SmartCenter software. Hear about the team’s reaction to the Engadget leak and the launch plans at CES 2007. If you missed the first three parts, they are here, here and here.
One of the really unsettling events before the launch of the TouchSmart PC was that Engadget somehow got a hold of some pictures that had been prepared for the launch in early 2007 at the Consumer Electronics Show. It was billed in the first sentence as “AMD’s sweet new rig”, which was a little bit of a slap in the face, since most of the real work fell outside of AMDs realm. I remember the team meeting when our program manager came in and told us about the “leak”. He had heard it from Microsoft just a few moments before joining the meeting. The mood in the room instantly turned. People started feeling both mad at the leaked information (and the leaker) and depressed about the potential impact this would have on our launch at CES. Microsoft especially was disappointed, since the TouchSmart PC represented a big investment on their part, carrying some of the Vista messaging. The TouchSmart PC was to be billed as one of a few “dream” PCs at CES. Having gone through an experience like that, I now always think about how the people involved must feel when I see “leaked” information about upcoming products. It’s not fun to have it happen to you.
On a happier note, the TouchSmart PC seemed to make quite a splash at CES. At the last minute I was asked to attend the show to help with technical support on the show floor. This was my first time attending CES and going to Las Vegas, and I quite enjoyed the experience. I ran into quite a few of the people that had worked with us on the project, and it was fun to see the crowds milling about the TouchSmart PCs at the HP and Microsoft booths. Having backstage access was a unique thing, but it involved a lot of walking around, helping the people doing demos by making sure the software was installed properly.
Since then, the HP TouchSmart PC has received numerous awards (including spot number seven on PC World’s list of most innovative products of 2007) and for a short while even had a fan website, the HP TouchSmart Owner’s Club.
This is the tentative end of the series. If you’re curious about other aspects, let me know, and if I can talk about it, I’ll see if I can accommodate your curiosity.