CES: Vivienne Tam netbook off to strong start

January 9, 2009

The PC emerged as fashion statement in 2008, with a number of companies rolling out models that attempted to appeal to consumers’ sense of style. And few PC offerings generated more buzz than Hewlett-Packard’s Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam edition, designed by the fashionista herself. The slim red netbook, which is meant to evoke a clutch purse, is decorated with peony flowers.

The device, which began shipping this week, is off to a strong start, according to Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of HP’s personal systems group. In an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, McKinney called the Vivienne Tam netbook the “first gender specific PC.”

“It’s still hard to get… I’ve gotten more emails on this product from people outside of HP wanting me to pull strings to get them the product than any other product we’ve ever shipped in the years I’ve been at HP.”

McKinney is adamant that the PC is not a commodity product, and said the Vivienne Tam netbook is tapping “that emotion and passion and that drives brand loyalty.”

He said the notion of marketing to women has changed. The old marketing idea was simply to “pink it and shrink it. And that’s not being authentic, women will pick up on that in a heartbeat.”

Most of all, a device must pass the ease-of-use test, or women will reject is much faster than men, McKinney said.

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