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Steve Jobs Punk'd?

Can Hollywood lend perspective to the world of business? I think so. Today, for example, I'm thinking of Bill Murray's famous quote from Ghostbusters:

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes ... The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria!

To that list, add Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) showing up Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) ... sort of.

HP's already the PC leader, with a 19.1% share of the worldwide market according to researcher IDC. This week, it rolled out some 50 new models, including a revamp of its touchscreen desktop.

That's right -- I said "touchscreen."

HP's new TouchSmart all-in-one desktop resembles an iMac. But according to published specs, it comes with a 22-inch screen, a faster processor, and more storage than its Apple rival, but costs $300 less.

What's interesting here isn't that HP rolled out a new touchscreen model. It's that HP has introduced a second-generation touch model before the Mac's daddy -- typically the innovator in all things PC -- introduced its first. How in the world ...?

You'd think that the iEmpire, flush with the success of the iPhone and the iPod Touch, would have launched a touchscreen iMac of its own at yesterday's Worldwide Developer Conference. Barring that, details of a forthcoming touchscreen Mac in development would have sufficed.

There is one in development, right Apple? There must be.

Even if there isn't, I can't see this hurting Apple as much as the bears who sold yesterday seem to think. HP can only do so much with its touchscreen technology, because it doesn't control the system that governs the basic operations of its PCs; Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) does. Apple won't have that problem if (when?) it decides to create a touchscreen Mac of its own.

Nevertheless, having a touchscreen interface positions HP as the innovator in its ongoing street fight for market share with Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Acer, and Lenovo. Smart. We know from the iEmpire's successes that consumers appreciate an innovator -- especially when it's possible to walk into a store and experience those innovations before buying.

On that front, HP's relationships with Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) , Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) , and most other electronics suppliers seem to give it a retail edge that, so far, Dell appears unable to match.

Ashton Kutcher isn't in Cupertino, Fool. He's in Round Rock, Texas. Michael Dell just got punk'd.

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Fool contributor and Rule Breakers writer Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. You can find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog entry here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Its disclosure policy is touched that you read this article all the way to the end. (Sniff.)

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Sweetriver wrote:

    What's so great about a touchscreen desktop? Can't type on it, can't draw on it, and you ultimately wind up with a smudged-up screen. And therein lies the genius of Jobs & Co.: usability takes precedence over the "cool" factor. It's all about the experience.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2008, at 3:28 PM, jeree10 wrote:

    Nice PC HP, but it still runs Microsoft's bloated Vista Operating System. The advantage Apple has is it's elegant and fast Mac OS.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2008, at 3:49 PM, EddieOffermann wrote:

    Touchscreen seems questionable where desktops or even typical laptops are concerned. Phones and tablets, great: Things you hold in your hand or kick back in your chair or on the couch with it in your lap like a book, fine.

    Holding your arms out in front of you to interact with the monitor (or, alternatively, sitting the monitor much closer to the edge of the desk so you can rest your elbows)? Not my favorite way to interact.

    I can see it picking up POS and Kiosk-style applications, but touchscreen versions of these devices have existed for a decade.

    I appreciate where Dell wants to go, but I think they're on the wrong road.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2008, at 8:11 PM, VPro wrote:

    A faster processor huh ... so you're saying it's got a duo core processor where you can run multiple apps with no freezing or crashes?

    Oh, I guess it comes loaded with a lot of apps to like iLife, etc. that you get with a Mac.

    Oh, it doesn't. Well, it seems you're research and reporting is what's being discounted here.

  • Report this Comment On June 12, 2008, at 11:11 AM, Krugzell wrote:

    Touch Screen sound "wow" but actually, your arms will burn like hell after 10 minutes of "using" that kind of HP thing.

    Poor people who think they made a bargain with this one :-(

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