I wrote this over the course of the two days we where at the Shanghai Expo Centre to join HP in their Global Influencer Summit 2012 where they announced over 80 products.
HP, making technology for you. That’s the slogan we saw everywhere. On our lanyards, on the stickered Volvo Busses, the hotel displays. But what technology they will announce to us was anybody’s guess. And trust me, there wass a lot of guessing.
If I rewind a few weeks back, I got a mysterious call asking me if I would be interested in covering a Hewlett-Packard event. In Shanghai. Yes, Shanghai in China. As if I needed a question to agree on that. Several mails, documents, a trip to the Chinese Visa Application Center in Brussels, 2 trains, 3 airports and 13 hours of airtime later, here I am, in the back of a funky smelling bus, on our way to the Shanghai International Expo Center.
Kind of amazing to be on the other side of the world, and we can all agree it’s an experience we are not likely to forget.
Act 1: The Keynote.
Typing this from the media lounge, here are some of my personal impressions for the opening keynote.
It’s funny to have an international event with a hashtag, but no working internet.
Once we got in we’ve got second row seats, as the first row was ‘reserved’, yet remained mostly empty during the presentation. Once we got started, a swarm of photographers rushed to the stage, and stayed there. Since it was useless to just stay and sit, I also got up and joined the few fellow photographers, and the crowd with cameras, phones and iPads, and made my shots. The 75-minute show was filled with beatboxers, B-list Celebrities, Dragons, some flat chested models in a fashion show, a HP-stickered car, and different quality LED-walls in 1 presentation. Oh, and some new notebooks and printers.
All by all, I’m glad I’m a photographer, since there is always something visual about a keynote, even if it are simple headshots. I’m no spec-junkie, so I don’t really care about the difference between computer models. I care about the experience, and one thing that is sorely missing was a distinct voice of progress. Everything was just evolutionary, nothing amazing, and for now, missing the future perspective.
The two exceptions was a workstation that was so light-powered that it ran on some sort of Ethernet cable, and an all in one mobile printer/scanner. So that’s rather fancy for representatives. But that’s about it for now. Let’s fill our stomachs amd see what the afternoon brings.
Interlude: The Lunch
Act 2: The Breakout Tracks
We start with a thin and light workshop, about ultrabooks. After quite some technological issues it starts with a presentation. Still, a workshop with earphones on? After 3 workshops, I had more than enough. Was it the jet lag, the 3 hour sleep or the presentation I don’t know,but I dozed off. So I was glad that the working day was over.
Act 3: The Evening
After a quick break at the hotel, we set off to Xintiandi. I say break, but I meanth capturing, editing and uploading pictures. Xintiandi is an entertainment district in the mid-west of Shanghai. After a traditional Chinese meal (including Fish-EYES, chicken legs and mystery-meat), I was glad I got a separate dish of baked rice. As a vegetarian I was kind of grossed out at those dishes. But then again, so where some carnivores.
After some nice appletinis, I went to bed and had my first good night of sleep in days.
End of Part 1.
Our first Break Out Track was a discussion about print. Not the HP home printing, but commercial printing. The talk was quite boring, yet the guest speaker was NY based Photographer Chase Jarvis presenting a new project. While I admire his work, it’s the basic idea print is dead, while everyone means, and mostly uses “Print Media” is dead. So that’s the thing. Chase however did take the time for a quick talk with me, which was very exciting.
Few second break-out track was a demonstration of the testing methods of which HP tests its computers. This was interesting, except I could have done without the ‘we are the only good ones out there’-vibe I was getting. I know it’s a way to distance yourself from your competitors, but I have the feeling you are all offering the same. It’s just like fellow photographers. You are all standing next to each other, photograph the same thing, yet everyone creates something personal that you can be proud of at the end of the day.
A small coffee break and some time in the delicious sunlight later it was time for the history of the all-in-one. It was interesting to see HP did launch the first Touchscreen computer in the early 80′s. The all-in-one solution is interesting, as you can see the same trend with Apple. The iMac and the HP solutions are slowly taking over the lower and higher-end computers
The HP all-in-one solutions all come from the Grab And Go kiosks, where we buy our tickets from in the airports, stations, cinema. I do hope that they do realise that a lot of those are just Crap and Go, as the response time and UI really isn’t made for the current day uses. Then again, it’s all For the youngsters it seems.
The interesting thing about this, is that after 5 hours of break out tracks, it’s the first time they discuss the future. But only briefly. The rest is your typical run-off-the-mill PR.
Act 2 & Finale: Closing keynote.
After a video made with iMovie and some slow presentations, rehashed from yesterday, it was time to introduce Steve Balmer…. On Video. He couldn’t join us, so there went that theory. In fact, the special guest star was the CEO of HP. Having your CEO show up on your biggest international press event does not sounds that unique, now does it?
In the end, this was a rather big letdown presentation. The original premise was a real vision on the future, exciting new products, Windows 8 etc. Yet all we saw was a minor refresh of their products. I am however curious About Windows 8 and future HP Windows tablets. But I must admit, the trip to Shanghai was amazing.