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January 1999
Our vision shows a peach of a market
3000 NewsWire Editorial
We celebrated our New Year at a symphony concert, and the evening reminded me of how 1999 is like ripe fruit for the HP 3000 community. Actually, it’s more like tree-ripe peaches in December, something even more special.

My partner Dot Lentz and I took some friends to the Austin Symphony’s Pops concert, an affair that can include a picnic dinner if you bring it along. Dot knew exactly what she wanted to make for her part of the dinner: salmon pinwheels, fresh, fat filets rolled with sweet spices and browned to perfection. Being of less experienced culinary arts, I chose to make fruit salad, but I included tree-ripened peaches.

It may be hot as the top of Pentium chip most of the time here in Texas, but December is well outside of peach season. Those peaches came from Chile, and cost us about a dollar each. I justified the cost by knowing that tree-ripened fruit would make a salad festive enough for the New Year. And I could get that vital ingredient because some supplier believed those peaches’ long journey from South America to Texas would result in a sale.

That’s our favorite definition of vision, the kind the HP 3000 market needs to grow stronger in 1999. People think of vision as an ability to see into the future, out into the horizon of the market in the New Year. Vision can be so much more if you start with what you desire, then see it clearly enough to manifest its existence.

Those without the second definition of vision can see into the future, but only what’s already on its way. Their vision reassures us that 1999 won’t be the eve of calamity for 3000 shops — business will go on as usual even though we have a new century digit arriving less than a year from now. But 3000 suppliers who can visualize what they want have a richer vision of the 3000 community, ripe with opportunity for anyone who can put peaches en route to the market’s shelves.

The sweetest peaches are applications, and this year is the prime season to be growing them. The market is settling into a two-year season where HP 3000s will remain in place and regain stature. Year 2000 work assures that. New customers arrive every day for the system, from the healthcare and direct marketing industries. Manufacturing firms hold some promise too, as well as distribution companies.

Nothing is as important to the HP 3000 market’s health than applications. We have said this in every year we’ve been in print. Now, beginning our fifth calendar year, it’s truer than ever: Applications make opportunities for the HP 3000 community. Jobs for you. Sales for HP. Customers for software companies selling tools. Finally, peachy profits appear for companies which find the ripe applications to run their businesses.

All of this comes at a cost, one that sometimes appears higher than 3000 alternatives. Less costly fruit was available but less suitable to our New Year’s concert picnic. (We were partying like it was 1999, after all.) PC and NT applications are easier to pick, cheaper because they don’t include that peach of a system, the HP 3000. But the sweeter taste of reliability and stability is gaining favor in the computing industry, a taste the tree-ripe 3000 has mastered.

Fruit salad and business computing applications have some common traits. Many different pieces are picked by hand to make up the whole. Quality leads to satisfaction. Premium pieces pay a reward, whether profits onto a ledger balance or smiles on friends’ faces.

Those peaches must be planted so businesses can pick them. This issue determines how long the HP 3000 will last. The safe season of Year 2000 maintenance is upon us all, but it won’t last forever. HP, especially the 3000 division, must do whatever is possible to help grow those suppliers. The division has two vital strengths: the ability to provide technical resource and marketing assistance.

In the past HP has noted that software companies settle on just a few platforms for business reasons. Help them settle on the HP 3000 by making it less costly to buy one. Do a volume business, like Big Blue. One fundamental way to woo new application providers would be to solve the low-end problem on the 3000 lineup. If IBM can sell an AS/400 for $8,000, HP should be able to do the same with the 3000. HBOC/Amisys and Smith-Gardner offer great orchards of growth. No orchard is beyond blight, however. More orchards mean a more secure vision for the platform’s growth. That growth is good for you, the installed customer. It ensures innovation, better value that comes through competition.

We can see a 3000 market hungry for applications, and wish for a new year’s resolution from our market: grow more tree-ripened fruits. People will pay a modest premium for something extraordinary, uncommonly good. To believe this requires vision, the kind that goes beyond seeing what’s coming next. Selling the sweetest peach on the shelf isn’t as easy as selling the cheapest. I had to pick up those tree-ripe peaches in the store to smell them. Success requires a nose for the future, to sense the things you cannot see.

— Ron Seybold

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