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Alienware vs. HP differentiator

So how do you differentiate a boring, humble PC? I was asking myself this, along with the “Business Evolutionist” who has a very interesting post with the title “Is Longer Better?” He’s talking about warranties, of course, not … well, you know.

Anyway, here I was promising the teens (I have two) that new computers were in the offing for the upcoming schools year. Dell? Nah, boring, and according to my daughter, too ugly for her bedroom. HP? Didn’t even make the list, although both teens are hot for an HP printer to go with the new computer.So what persuaded me to spend at least 1/3 more on the cool “Alienware” computers we eventually ordered? For my son, the appeal to gaming that Alienware has successfully promoted throughout what I can only imagine is a teenage boy underground. For my daughter, it’s the color and styling. Can you believe it? Lessons learned: even in a commodity category, there are always going to be attributes that make a huge difference for some customer segments. Oh, and the son’s computer is a really acid lime green, the daughter’s a soothing silvery white.

Steve Jobs learned taught us years ago that people would prefer to pick the colors they like rather than the colors computer designers use. Nokia figured out that replaceable covers for their phones made all the difference against competition, which gave them an edge for years over the boring old machine-made competition. Why do manufacturers keep forgetting that sometimes seemingly small differences can have a huge impact?

I’ll keep you posted on how things go when the cool new stuff arrives! Here’s hoping.

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