I've decided it's time for me to come out of the dark. I've been away from writing for awhile as you can probably tell by the dates on these blogs. I was in Seattle for the entire summer, working from home. I bought a boat, took up wake surfing/boarding/skating in the evenings and on weekends, and worked my ass off during the day. It was awesome.
Life has been exciting, and I've been working on a number of things including an interesting Healthcare project, some future stuff in the Innovation Program Office at HP, and also a really cool social media aggregation application as a personal experiment. I have also been working with my colleague Mark Solomon and a few others on the future of Voodoo, including some out of the box (way out) projects which do not include the usual desktops and notebooks. We're looking way ahead into the future as to where things are going, where the market is going, and how HP and Voodoo fit into this future.
Voodoo, as you all know, was to be integrated into the larger business units so we could take some of our ideas and products to a much larger audience. I can't tell you how many times people in Dubai, London, India, and other places asked for the Voodoo Envy. It was frustrating for me because I've always wanted to get the brand out there, but changing the way the machine works so that we could take it globally isn't that simple. Essentially it's not as easy as I hoped. Here's the long and the short of it.
The quickest way for us to take an Envy-like product outside of North America is via the HP brand through the HP Notebook Global Business Unit. These guys are incredible. They have access to the world's best resources, the best ODMs, and the best access to components. When you compare the level of engineering they have at their disposal to that of the small Voodoo business unit it's very difficult to explain the magnitude of difference. From the outside looking in you might wonder why it's not easy to plug one into the other. I can't even begin to explain it.
That said, HP decided it would be best to take some of the influence of the Voodoo Envy and Voodoo F1r3fly prototype; things like the thin and light form factor, IOS quick boot, the incredible screen quality, focus on audio, Voodoo power adapter, beautiful packaging, performance features, quad core processor, and night vision camera and build two very compelling thin and light notebooks.
The notebook team also took a different approach on materials and design; rather than using exotic carbon fiber like the Voodoo Envy they chose an extremely durable magnesium alloy. These notebooks are built solid, you have to hold them to appreciate the quality. They don't flex, bend, or have any loose hinges. The battery sits tight and it's machined very well. Their team took the essence of Voodoo and designed the notebook the way they saw fit - with a thin and light form factor, and incredible slice battery, killer processor and graphics, beautiful screen, etc.
Many people assumed that Voodoo had designed these notebooks, when in reality we did not. However, it's clear that our influence has reached almost all corners of the company. Go back 3 years and look at how HP's products have changed; it's pretty incredible.
I wasn't sure if it was possible to jam all the high performance technology into these notebooks, including the slice battery --- but the other day I received a new Envy 13 and Envy 15 on my desk and I quickly ripped the boxes open. The first thing I thought I might have to do was blow away the software, but I was pleasantly surprised by the light installation of Windows 7. I uninstalled one application that I don't use and I quickly downloaded Steam to get some games on the units to test them.
Sure these notebooks may not be targeted to "gamers", but let's face it - we simply cannot hide from the monster specs. So I downloaded Call of Duty 4, Tropico 3 (you read that right! El Presidente is back), Fear 2, Halflife 2, and a few others. I challenge anyone to find a notebook that's thin and light that performs as well as the HP Envy 13 and the HP Envy 15... I'm happy to say I really think the team did a magnificent job on the performance. As far as the design goes, the reason there's no "VoodooDNA" on the product has to do with the overall design language, the target market, and the fact that we weren't directly involved in the design.
So, what happened to Voodoo? Well, we've been looking way ahead into the future. Voodoo has been transitioning from "desktop & notebook" manufacturing to something beyond. Does this mean you'll never see a Voodoo or VoodooDNA desktop or notebook again? Hardly, I'm sure you will. ..but while we hash this out you will continue to see products with our fingerprints released from various areas of HP. For you Firebird fans out there - remember I said that was the future of desktop gaming? Well we haven't forgotten about that.
In the past I loved to control things from end to end, that may or may not necessarily be the case in the future. I'm personally not sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing. It's certainly less stress, that's for damn sure. Only time or my gut will tell me one way or the other.
So there you go, I'm here, we're here. In life as in business I find my work to be challenging and somewhat frustrating at times, but in the end it's rewarding to see the Voodoo influence continue to build on our legacy... Don't ever believe what you read online unless you hear it from the source.. ;-)
...and to the notebook team, you guys did a great job on the HP Envys. You'll have to pry these things out of my cold dead hands though (return labels? what return labels?).