May 14, 2011 | ISSUE 47•19
A customer tries not using his non-computer
PALO ALTO, CA—Hewlett-Packard announced Friday the release of the first-ever non-computer, a fully unusable device specially designed to address the demands of individuals who have absolutely no need to own a computer.
CEO Léo Apotheker told reporters the non-computer was a long-overdue innovation that would finally allow consumers with zero interest in computers to enjoy all the benefits of not having one.
"For too long, manufacturers have catered exclusively to people expressing at least minimal interest in what a computer has to offer," Apotheker said during a press conference. "Meanwhile, there's an untapped group of consumers out there who've been telling us for years, 'Hey, no thanks. Computers aren't really for me.' Well, as of today, someone's finally listening."
"If you've never wanted a computer, this is the product you've been waiting for," Apotheker added.
The non-computer, with its total lack of any software, keyboard, monitor, memory, or internal circuitry whatsoever, was constructed to free users from the computing functions that have historically turned off people who don't like using computers. Expected to retail for $4.99, the non-computer, Apotheker said, is the ideal machine for anyone who can't imagine typing, surfing the web, or sending an e-mail.
Apotheker later noted that the whole non-computer, including all non-peripherals, weighs less than a pound, and that because it doesn't need a power source to charge the battery it doesn't have, the device is ex≠tremely portable.
"It doesn't matter if you're in a coffee shop, on a plane, or camping in the middle of the woods," Apotheker said. "The non-computer's inability to even switch on, let alone pick up a Wi-Fi signal, means you'll be able to not use a computer wherever you are. It's that easy."
"Best of all, you never have to worry about breaking it," Apotheker continued. "There's no data to lose or delicate parts to worry about. A non-computer works just as well smashed up into 50 pieces as it does right out of the box."
Mike Fieler, a writer for the technology blog Gizmodo who acquired an advance prototype of the non-computer, said the device could be hugely successful, especially among those who have never been in the market to buy a computer, don't know or care how computers work, totally avoid computers in every area of their lives, and may in fact be irritated by the very sound of the word "computer."
"Personally, I like actual computers as opposed to things that are not computers," Fieler said. "But if I weren't a computer user, this is just the kind of non-performing product I'd get, no question."
With its low price and utter absence of features, the non-computer may prove irresistible even to the most reluctant consumers, some of whom told reporters they were intrigued by the new product, but still skeptical that the non-computer could deliver on its promise not to compute.
"I guess I'm a little worried that I'll get it home and it'll light up or process data or do something else I don't want," Philadelphia resident Stephanie Palmenteri said. "All I need is a thing that will go on my desk and leave a clean rectangular spot on the wood when I move it every now and then."
"In the commercial, they showed a man watching television while his non-computer sat untouched on the coffee table in front of him," Aaron Mitchell, 42, said. "Pretty cool."
The non-computer may be purchased through HP's website, www.hp.com.