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How a Simple Takeaway Box Helped this Chromebook Rival Apple

hp-packaging

Most of us pay little attention to the sort of box that our computers come in. It’s a perfunctory barrier; something we rip off and toss in the trash with little thought, eager to get at what’s inside.

The first generation HP Chromebook 11, which was released last year, turned this on its head. Its retail packaging was as every bit as standout as the device it housed. Those of you who have bought or seen a boxed HP 11 in person will know what I mean — it’s the sort of consumer packaging you don’t want to throw away.

But what made it so special?

HP Chromebook 11 Packaging Concept

Made by HP and designed by Google, the Exynos-powered 11.6-inch Chrome OS notebook shipped inside a seemingly seamless plastic shell; a futuristic looking case housing a futuristic cloud computing device. But this was more than just a box. Equal parts luxury and attentive design, the softly curved edges of the stark white capsule matched up perfectly with the build and colour of the Chromebook chassis within.

hp chromebook packaging

In many ways the design was almost deceptively simple, rather like Chrome OS itself. But a lot of thought was put into crafting a package that could work as a whole, as an extension of the laptop, and as something capable of rivalling Apple or the Google Nexus line in the “wow” stakes.

Designed from the ground up by Liquid Agency in partnership with Google’s design team, every part of the product box screams Google: from the outer label slip to the moulded inner trays, the packaging emphasises the simplicity of Chrome OS by being simple itself.

Opening it up you don’t find the device held in place with polystyrene or cardboard but sat in soft, moulded trays. There is no bubble-wrapped charger and no bag containing an acre’s worth of leaflets, manuals and other irrelevant paper junk. Just the notebook, a charger and a quick-start guide.

According to Liquid the chief inspiration for the package was a simple takeaway box. They wanted to match its purpose by being functional, simple but also environmentally friendly.

A wealth of engineering was required to design and mould the package to be structurally sound and capable of withstanding the bumps, tumbles and varying temperatures that regular shipping and transportation inflicts. The couture design and engineering needs meant that new machines were created specifically to ‘…create the box’s unique shape and density.’ 

“Specifically, we wanted to do less, not more,” they say.

It’s not surprising to learn that the concept won Liquid a gold award at the 2014 Silicon Valley ADDY Awards.

Extending the Story

The two Chromebooks I’ve owned had very standard cardboard packaging. Nothing special, nothing that extended the experience inside to the moment before I’d even turned it on:

019

Packaging is often far more important than people kid themselves to believe. It’s the first impression. When bought online, it serves as the handshake of thanks. It should be special.

By combining form and functionality with design, Liquid Design did for Chromebooks what Apple did for its hardware: it brought the story of the product inside, outside – right where people could see it.

Rumoured poor sales may mean the HP Chromebook 11 lacks a legacy, but it will certainly have left a good impression on those who bought one. 

  • Frederic MANSON

    That’s for sure that I will NEVER throw away this eyes friendly cute package!!! I do not understand why HP has not used this kind of package again for its new Chromebooks… We all know that the Apple products are expensive. That’s their nature. And they show it with their package. Why the Chromebooks do not used a similar approach to give a plus-value to the content??? This plus-value is really appealing and may brough new customers to the ChromeOS world…

    Do someone will send me money to buy the other HP 11 colours?? I have the blue one!! :p

    • JPB

      I have one of the red ones which you almost never see. I’m thinking of holding onto it for a while as I suspect it will eventually be a collector’s item.

      • Frederic MANSON

        I will do the same thing!! For the very first time, I will keep my laptop instead of selling it. I really like it and I hope the next gen to be designed like this gen!!!

  • vloz
  • moe

    i would like to know more about Chrome Os + material design. Would the chrome web browser different, etc.. anyways this link show a little of that.

    http://www.chromestory.com/2014/06/sneak-peak-chrome-os-googles-new-material-design/

  • matbonucci

    One of the things that i love from the hp chromebook 11 is that it looks like a toy made from google, and so minimalistic. Is just my personal taste

    • fuzzylumpkins

      It’s ‘handy’, I always felt really great pulling it out to show someone something, always got compliments on it.

  • dourscot

    The packaging is indeed part of the first impression which for Chromebooks is the concept of simplicity.

    The antithesis of everything Windows stands for.

  • fuzzylumpkins

    I had a red HP 11 and loved it. I had to upgrade to a Windows PC for college, but damn did I love that little thing.

  • http://www.ggphotographe.net/ Guillaum Gibault

    I really like the idea behind the design. I hope more Chromebooks in the future will follow that idea. Talking about hardware design, others Chromebooks look kinda boring.

  • http://www.totallywizard.org/ rwoodsmall

    The box goes in the recycling bin. I appreciate good design, but I’m not paying for the box, I’m paying for what’s inside it.

  • Anthony

    The experience I’ve had for the HP 11 is fantastic. I’ve owned a couple computers before this Google computer and this one takes the cake. The hardware, OS, updates, just the whole experience has been great. The HP 11 is like one of their flagship devices along side The Pixel and they both have a light bar!