HP's $279 Hotel Lobby Laptop That's Going to Kill Apple!

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), even living off of Google's (GOOG) Android hog, isn't going to "kill" anything or anybody. To say it will suggests, quite objectively, there's something seriously wrong with you.

I have talked to TheStreet contributor Anton Wahlman several times. Lengthy discussions about everything from electric vehicles to Apple ( AAPL). These interactions confirm he's not crazy; rather he's a bright, well-connected guy, who lives and breathes the subject matter he writes about.

That said, after reading his article from last Thursday, HP's New Radical, $279, Apple-Killing Laptop, there must be something going on in Wahlman's life that causes a form of delusion the entire staff at Bellevue, waiting with their oxygen masks, couldn't definitively diagnose.

From the get-go ...
I'm typing this review on a radical new $279 laptop that, if it had an Apple logo and were sold in Apple stores, would sell 50 million units in the first month alone.

Wahlman spews a brand of orgasmic insanity unmatched by any Google chest bump or fist pump that came before it:
It's the best-spent $279 technology you can buy in the market today. I give it my highest recommendation ever.

But it's not merely Wahlman's subjective endorsement of this apparent sub-$300 technological wonder, he plays his euphoria off of humanity:
Sadly, we live in an unfair world where ignorant consumers tend to buy products based on brand perceptions that often lag reality by a decade or more.

So, coming from a guy with a markedly conservative record politically -- based on his previous writings at TheStreet -- the world's unfair and the public just plain dumb because they prefer Apple laptops over Google-fueled HP devices.

But then, on Page Two of his article, after arguing, on the basis of screen size and product weight, that this HP Chromebook isn't all that different from a Macbook, Wahlman blatantly contradicts himself:
On the software side, Chrome OS is for those who are not in need to run significant local apps, including iTunes, photo editing software and advanced games. It's best for general Web surfing, email, calendar, address book and running basic business productivity services such as Google Docs in particular.

Sounds a bit like something Jim Balsillie might have written shortly ahead of the artist formerly known as RIM's demise.

Wahlman contends that this is all "a large chunk of the population" uses their laptops for "most or all of the time."

This is where I can't help but think he's delusional.

Not to split hairs, but, while most -- and probably all -- execute the mundane tasks Wahlman lists, these are not the only things they do with their devices. We live in a much more specialized and sophisticated world than Wahlman gives the ignorant masses credit for inhabiting.

Not only do we "run significant local apps, including iTunes, photo editing software and advanced games," we also regularly use platforms such as Netflix ( NFLX) and HBO GO. These activities, particularly when combined with the mindless practices of "Web surfing" and checking email, require more punch and attention to detail than a $300 laptop can possibly muster.

While I don't doubt that Google's Web-based software can attract a significant portion of the population, including power users (it already has), it's simply not going to do it on corner-cutting Chromebooks produced by straw-grasping companies such as HP.

Shortly before Apple sold 9 million of them, Wahlman had Google laughing at the new iPhones. I knew that sort of attitude was trouble when it walked in; the laugh's on that Kit Kat statue Wahlman had Google executives dancing around. Instead of writing manifestos that prematurely proclaim Apple's death -- without any legitimate support for such a take -- Wahlman ought to focus on what the problem really is.

Apple is one of the few companies that refuses to treat the public like complete idiots. Passing off a $300 laptop as even somehow comparable to a Macbook risks making consumers who take the bait feel like they fell for the empty promises of a late night informercial.

The funny thing is, from what I have seen in most of its marketing, Google doesn't even do that with its Chromebooks. In fact, at least once I have seen Google position its laptop as one that can work for everybody. One that would fit nicely in a hotel lobby where people do things like kill time, print airline boarding passes and check their Facebook feed.

Just because something can work for everybody doesn't mean everybody will, practically can or even should buy that particular product. Often we need more. Sometimes, we simply just want more, as misguided as that often can be.

Lots of reasons exist to explain why Apple might be killed or otherwise die and, given the current competitive landscape in tech, most every one comes from within.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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