"In no way did HP try to mimic Apple."

201205100927Hewlett Packard's VP of industrial design Stacy Wolff bristles at the suggestion that his laptop design was perhaps informed by Apple's.


  1. How is it Mark posting this and not Rob? I mean, for once, it’s pretty obvious!

    While not “clone”, it’s damn close. It misses on some points, though. I would still take a macbook over an HP, and I’m not even a mac fanboy.

    1. How funny that it’s called the “Envy Spectre XT.” I think we all know who’s envying whom!

      (And what a clunky name. Why not just “Spectre”?)

    1. It’s because all the others suck.  Poor quality materials, festooned with buttons, etc.  Not to mention Apple is the only one with a trackpad that works and works very well.  Also Apple uses high quality displays which is part of design.

        1. That’s not what he meant. All the others suck and Apple’s design is excellent independent of anything else.

          Which is not to say there isn’t any room for improvement, but nobody else has even shown the capability to come anywhere near matching Apple, much less do anything better than them (in terms of industrial design).

          Also, I won’t discount the fact that Apple has patents which may prevent others from creating equally good products (the touchpad being a great example). Regardless of how we may feel about patents, though, they should be able to work around them and create new solutions, but they don’t even try – they just want to copy.

        2. You missed the point…all others can suck and one an still be amazing. I’ve owned about 20 laptops in my lifetime…I can think of one that could compare to my MacBooks…even my 5 year old MacBook is better in quality and design then competitions today. For those who say Macs are to expensive…you have to spend just as much in the PC world to get the same quality. A $400 Acer (and I own several) just doesn’t compare…but can serve their own purpose. 

    2. That’s a fair observation.  Not everyone is into design or cares too much what things look like for the most part.

      I, however, am not one of those people and I appreciate the clean lines and solid construction of my Macbook.

      1.  You assume that people who don’t like Apple’s design aren’t “into design or care too much what things look like”.  Maybe they are into design and do care what things look like, but just don’t share your design tastes. 
        Some people like slippery-looking foreign sports cars while others prefer boxy muscle cars.  Some people like Boston rockers while others like an Eames.  To each his own.

  2. HP invented lots of new stuff until the late 1990’s.  Then came La Fiorina, the Thundering Hurd, and whatshisname, the SAP guy.  So much for R&D and innovation at HP, which was beaten out of the budgets.  So it’s fair to question the DNA of anything offered by HP today, especially when the product in question seems to owe a debt to a back alley liaison between Apple and Microsoft.

  3. I still have an HP 48gx calculator on my desk circa 1993, the epitome of high quality, thoughtful design and function.

    It’s very sad how far that company has fallen. They used to have what it takes. Now their name means nothing.

  4. Such an obvious lie from HP.  No wonder they are a laughing stock and their PC business is
    circling the drain.  They should have just kept their mouths shut.  Also, Meg Whitman as CEO?  Really?

    1.  re:  Whitman:  She was obviously the best of the failed gubernatorial choices they were offered.  I mean, all she did with eBay was sell other people’s garbage.

        1. They would pick someone to save the company if they weren’t all too busy stuffing their briefcases full of office supplies and trying to wring another hundred dollars here and there from the withered husk before declaring bankruptcy and heading to their yachts.

  5. Well, they are kinda stuck. After all, Apple has whittled the design of a laptop down to its bare essentials, so much that if any other company wants to produce a laptop whittled down to its bare essentials, it will look identical to the Apple product. 

    That’s a lie. They could have made it look different, they just didn’t want to. Apple has defined cool, so to look cool, you have to copy Apple.

    In our radio astronomy lab, we use 30-40 year old HP test equipment, because it was made when HP was a leader. It works better than the new Agilent stuff, and breaks less often, and can be repaired.

    1. …if any other company wants to produce a laptop whittled down to its bare essentials, it will look identical to the Apple product.

      A good sign of a really strong design is that it seems obvious in retrospect.

      1.  That’s the thing that Apple has achieved – they reduce an amazingly complex electronic device to a block of metal with a few buttons. Jobs really understood that the art of designing better stuff is to make it be less rather than more.

        1. and then they patented the schlitz out of it so nobody else can use that revelation.

  6. Now I didn’t know HP maybe did the chiclet keyboard first – I’ve always given Sony that credit up to now. 
    But his central argument is significant and relevant.  On that basis, every television set has been, um, a homage to every other television set.  To argue that a silver case with black keyboard is somehow “ripping off” Apple requires a level of sophistry that baffles me (but must make the lawyers very happy.) 
    Now if the machine was running an OS called Crafty Cougar (don’t tell me, that’s an old version of Ubuntu?!) and had a logo of a Pear on the lid http://pics.imcdb.org/7478/Apple.jpg then I might think you had an argument.

    How did we ever get into this absurd mess?

    1. No, denying said copying is sophistry. Let’s count the 1:1 correlations in just the article image alone:

      1. Overall chasis dimensions / proportions
      2. Chasis color & material
      3. Chasis corner radii
      4. Trackpad position and dimensions and corner radii
      5. Keyboard placement & inset
      6. Keyboard color
      7. Key mechanism

      And the number of significant distinctions:

      1. Black rule on the trackpad
      2. No speakers adjacent to keyboard

      1. Is one company hoping consumers buy their product by MISTAKE, thinking it a competitors model?

        Don’t counterfeiters do that?

    2. So by your reckoning this is no more like a macbook than, say, a 2002 model Vaio?  That’s also of the generic laptop design and layout.  In fact you could say that there are hundreds, probably thousands of laptop designs that couldn’t be directly compared to a macbook.  Yet this one, the one right there, in the picture you can look at, the one that looks the same as the macbook, doesn’t look like a macbook?

      His argument may be significant, but it’s also dumb.

    3.  Form follows function, if your intended function is similar to your competitor, it follows that the form may be similar as well. The Wheel and Gunpowder were invented independantly in geographically seperate parts of the world.

  7. It actually looks nothing like the Air. http://www.engadget.com/photos/hp-envy-spectre-xt/#5007735 It has a glossy black frame around the screen, the top looks much nicer than the Air (with its giant glowing night-light for those scared of the dark,) and the profile is significantly different… Your picture is very misleading. (Yes it is silver, thin, and has a black keyboard, but if you’re going with a silver case you can’t have a white keyboard…)

    1. I don’t think that’s the same one. In your link the touchpad area is different.

      or is it just the angle messing with me?

    2. “but if you’re going with a silver case you can’t have a white keyboard…”

      O RLY? http://images.apple.com/keyboard/images/hero_2_20110811.jpg

  8. The full quote… “In no way did HP ‘try’ to mimic Apple.  We succeeded.”

  9. I have an HP laptop. And I hate it. I got it because of limited money and my old Dell breaking. I needed to get one ASAP, and it was there, good specs, low price. Now I loathe it.

    I do not care if they copy, as long as the design is better. However, it’s not gonna be me who’s gonna get a new HP.

    1. Our HP laptop that we have lying around the house is kind of a running joke.  The screen is now actually hanging off, connected only by one wire (one of the wires snapped, haven’t worked out what it did yet).
      Believe it or not we treat electronics very well.

    2. Copying design != copying quality

      Apple laptops are solid. Even better than the old ThinkPads. My laptop is a tool that I use everyday. The quality makes a huge difference.

      1. I used to think, after two Dells, that all laptops were prety much the same, differences are minor. I was very wrong, as I see now, with this machine that gets too hot and freezes for no reason. 

        1. i have installed advanced system care  5, a good version avaiable free.
          my HP runs like a swiss watch.
          as for HOT, try mnfct’s web site on cleaning ?

  10. I’ve disagreed on boing boing before with copycat claims. For the record, I call the HP Envy the HP Macbook. They look so much alike it’s insane. 
    Isn’t it true though that HP hired someone who USED TO WORK for as a designer for Apple for the design of the Envy? If that’s the case I don’t mind just because honestly I feel design belongs to the designer more than it does to the company. It’s like saying all the Don Bluth animated films looked “too much like Disney films” he was a Disney animator, he helped make the style that led up to the 80s and 90s Disney films. So he has every right to do it somewhere else, as he helped make the original. =/

  11. So many companies like HP and Sony like to say “We did that first, no one give US credit!”. Ok, so you had a chiclet keyboard, but did it have the same feel? Did it actually work for touch typing? And more importantly, did you do JUST that one thing and the rest of your product sucked? Who cares if you had a chiclet keyboard when the rest of your laptop’s design (and the OS it was running) was terrible? When will these companies learn that the reason Apple sells these overpriced (according to PC fanboys) machines is because they get MORE of the right things right and less wrong. All the companies have hit on something right, but they left the users hanging, wanting more, instead of running with it. Look at Apple designs over the years, it has a a few fits and starts but overall it is an evolution. Take a look at Dell or HP designs and you will see a constant fluctuation of every aspect. Like throwing darts at a dart board with a blindfold on. Even if HP made something that was “perfect”  design for me, what are the chances that their next generation of laptops will build on that rather than just starting over and seeing what sticks to the wall? Slim to none.

    Oh, and you are all being sued buy Cadbury-Adams, the original Chiclet makers. ;-p

    1. Which is totally unnecessary and hard for users to grasp. And of course, Apple’s keyboard allows you to use a Modifier+Delete combo for a backspace if that’s something you still want to hang on to from your PDP-11/vt100 days.

      1. “Which is totally unnecessary and hard for users to grasp.”

        You’re being sarcastic, right?  If not…I’ll admit it’s not entirely necessary, but few things truly are.  It is quite handy though.  But hard for users to grasp?!  What do you mean by that?  People can’t understand the concept of a forward-delete?

        1. It’s much, much simpler to teach a new user to just move the cursor forward one space then hit delete. Also, if they are being taught mouse based editing, how do you explain the difference between highlighting something and hitting delete / forward delete? Logically, the forward delete should delete either the next character after the selection, or a similar number of characters after the selection, or a similar number of words, or a similar number of sentences, or a similar number of paragraphs, or … something else.

          Perhaps you’d like us to have both a carriage return and a new line key as well? Sure, you won’t need them 99.9999999% of the time, but when you do, man!!!

          1. “It’s much, much simpler to teach a new user to just move the cursor forward one space then hit delete.”
            I’d heard about this sort of worshipful rationalization, but I’d never seen it in the wild.  Thank you so much for the demo!

      2. If a right-delete key is “unnecessary and hard for users to grasp”, why does Apple include it on their own external keyboards (the ones they call “extrasmart”)?   Design flaw?  

        1. For the same reason that people climb Everest: because it’s there. The Apple Extended Keyboard mimics almost exactly the IBM PC keyboard (with the exception of the truly bizarre shit like NUM LOCK and SCROLL LOCK). Sure, they could have made it into an F16 key, but why bother? Or just leave that key out and make life harder for Logitech to manufacture?
          So it’s not a design flaw as much as a slavish adherence to what some part of the community thinks is standard.

          You could argue that a forward delete key would have made more sense on the original Mac keyboard, which having no cursor keys made deleting something just after the cursor position a bigger task than necessary — but those days are long past.

          BTW, I’ve never heard of the extended keyboard being labelled “extrasmart” — so out of curiosity, where did you find that?

          1. Re: “extra smart”,  check out 

            As for the suggestion that Apple allows confusing and redundant elements on their big keyboards because they’re too lazy to mess with the status quo…  no.  They do it because for most people, right-delete is neither confusing nor offensively redundant.  It’s just another key, simple to understand and often convenient, as are many other keys that Apple has purged from their smaller keyboards.

    2. For the once in a blue moon need to forward-delete I can always hit fn-Backspace.  It does require one extra finger, but I cope. I have one on my iMac wired keyboard, doesn’t get much use.

      For the record I have an HP laptop too. It’s missing at least 2 keys; as in they’ve fallen off, cause it’s shit.

      1. I have used a MacBook pro exclusively for six years. I miss forward delete nearly every day. How often do I use the damn eject key? Pretty much never. Bu for some reason you can’t remap eject to forward delete. That is my primary complaint about Apple keyboards.

        1. Six years?  Try control-d.  You don’t even have to leave the home row.  Otherwise fn-delete if you’re using a laptop.

          1. I am well aware of those options and use them. Still they annoy me. I find that I need forward delete all the time when coding. For some of us it is a real shortcoming of Apple’s keyboards.

    3. I find the lack of a (forward) delete key especially annoying on the iPad as the modifer+backspace workaround isn’t an option.

      1. True. I seems like one of the three standard keyboard modes could offer this, but there again hitting keyboard / symbols / forward delete is pretty clunky — and from a UI perspective what would the key do if there was no characters to the right to delete? Greying out doesn’t appear to be an option.

  12. Who cares?  If I wanted a laptop that looks like a MacBook, before today I would have had to buy a MacBook.  Today I can choose from either an HP or a MacBook.  More choices for me. 

    1. I don’t think many people (with the likely exception of Apple) mind that they ripped of the MacBook. It’s just amusing to hear their denials.

  13. His answers are just pathetic rationalisations..
    Sure, each design element has been done before. But they got pulled together by one company, and that particular configuration (and design cues) got well known due to Apple’s design. This particular design makes you respond “Apple” when asked who made that. Because they’ve been running in a certain direction (design wise) for a number of years.HP did a (mostly useless) chiclet keyboard a long time back? The result was that nobody wanted to do a chiclet keyboard for over a decade because the experience was so bad… Apple makes a nice, clean design (YMMV) and suddenly, while Apple’s product is selling like hotcakes HP makes a product that copies most of the design… pathetic.HP used to be one of the companies that stood for quality and innovation, in the last few years they’ve fallen to DELL levels (in fact, I think DELL is better, simply because they are unashamedly decent-ish design and quality at a low price). Is it just Lenovo standing back and keeping up the quality on the WinPC side? Are there others right now that can be counted on across their range of products?

  14. OBVIOUSLY HP came up with this design first.

    Jonny Ive then traveled through time into the future, snuck into HP’s secret design lab, stole their designs, and traveled back in time so that Apple could bring the design to market first.  Boo-ya, HP.


    1. And did this happen before or after Apple went back in time and invented the ultra-thin laptop just in time for Toshiba to rip off their design and market it as the Portege (starting in 1994)??

  15. I love how they even copied the font used on the keyboard. I wonder if they called over to Mac techs to figure out how to render the Windows command key..

  16. surely this is a normal design convergence, becoming a generic “laptop”. when i go to a laptop store , they all look pretty much the same. do the same thing, unless you need extra, and that is there too. there is convergence to the form/function via market acceptance.
    no longer an issue……by now, there could be one generic laptop, coming from one factory,
    with one operating system, one browser….etc..make 7 billion,retool  factory…

    repeat with 60 inch plasma screens.

    repeat with solar panels. make enough to cover all energy needs….


    1. think about the energy savings, the bullshit jobs no longer.a much shorter work week.
      heaps of bonuses.
      innovation thru collaboration rather than competition. might have sanity spin offs ?

  17. Realistically, Apple won’t pursue this unless the model becomes popular. So that means Apple most likely won’t pursue this.

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