Could Hewlett-Packard's Sprout Threaten Apple's Dominance With Creative Professionals?
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ) showed a new side of the company Wednesday only weeks after it was announced that the firm would be split in two.
The PC maker started with the first glimpse of the Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, a unique machine that is 10 times faster than the nearest competitor.
"So far it looks pretty compelling," Pacific Crest analyst Brent Bracelin told Benzinga, referring to both of HP's new products.
The second product is Sprout, an original PC concept for graphic designers and other creative professionals. It combines a scanner, a depth sensor, a high-resolution camera and a projector into a single unit.
"I think it's very interesting, especially for the creative field, which is a field that has long been dominated by Macs," Monness Crespi Hardt analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro told Benzinga. "It's definitely new technology that we have not seen as far as integrating real world with the creative world."
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, is among the analysts who were impressed by Sprout.
"The computer is a very specialized machine primarily targeted at people who want to transfer the real to the virtual and the virtual to the real, and particularly for those who like to work on canvas," Enderle told Benzinga. "It's very unique in the market, but it's targeted at a very narrow demographic. It'll be interesting to see where it goes."
Fidacaro was particularly impressed by the implementation of Sprout's scanner.
"We've long had scanning technology, but now we're talking about using real-world objects," said Fidacaro. "A couple of my friends are graphic design artists. A lot of that technology was [previously] done by taking a photo of a product and scanning the photo for catalogues, etc. Now you've got this real-world collaboration, which is very interesting. It's a pretty innovative product for HP."
New Threat To Apple's Dominance?
Sprout may be innovative -- but is it enough to take down Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL)? Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry doesn't think it will make that big of an impact.
"I think both companies have a different take on what a creative person wants," Chowdhry told Benzinga. "I think it's quite a niche product right now. If you look at Apple, [the company] goes with a mass-market product with mass appeal. HP's Sprout is quite a niche right now. I don't think it's going into another [company's] turf."
Instead, Chowdhry thinks Sprout is Hewlett-Packard's way of creating its own differentiating product for a niche market.
"I don't think it's a competitor or an issue for Apple or anybody else," he added. "I think it's HP trying to differentiate itself in the marketplace. If you think about the Windows space, probably they want to be leader against Asus, Acer and Lenovo."
3D Printer: Ahead Today, Old News Tomorrow?
Chowdhry worries that 2016 is too late for Hewlett-Packard to launch its printer.
"I don't think that is the right timeline," said Chowdhry. "That's a lot of time. It should be shipping to the consumer and the enterprise in 2014, in a month or two. 2016 is too late. The industry changes very fast."
Despite his concerns, Chowdhry said that he has to give Hewlett-Packard some credit because the company is not sitting idle. "These two products took us by surprise, but we were not very enthused because of the timeline [for the printer]," he added. "2016 is not the right time. That's [more than a year] away."
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.
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