HP shareholders question why company isn't more like Apple

in General Discussion edited January 2014

During the Q&A session of Hewlett Packard's annual shareholder meeting, individuals grilled CEO Meg Whitman on why the company isn't as innovative and successful as Silicon Valley neighbor and rival Apple.

Apple figured strongly into three of the questions raised by stockholders at the company's meeting .

For instance, one individual recounted how he had asked Apple co-founder Steve Jobs years ago how his company planned to compete with bigger PC makers like HP. Jobs reportedly told him that Apple products are "just better" and their technology is "years ahead of the competition, especially in mobile."

"[Jobs has] been correct," the shareholder noted, pointing out that Apple is now worth more than 10 times HP's market cap. He went on to say that Apple had succeeded in a space where HP "used to be dominant."

"Do you think HP was and is innovative enough?" he asked Whitman.

Whitman responded first by acknowledging Apple's extraordinary accomplishments in recent years.

"We all have to applaud Apple for their success," she replied. "This is one of the great business renaissance stories of our generation. I have to say Steve Jobs is one of the business leaders of our generation."

She also reminded the gentleman that HP remains "No. 1 or No. 2 in every business" it competes in, while expressing her continued commitment to R&D and and products.

HP CEO Meg Whitman

Another investor complained that HP doesn't have convenient retail stores with repair service like Apple does. He pointed out that he has to wait two to three weeks for a new printhead to be shipped from HP's facility on the East Coast when his printer is broken.

"There are obvious ways that you can improve the way HP appears to the customer," he added.

Whitman replied by highlighting the company's retail initiative in Brazil. She couldn't promise that the economics would work out in the United States, but she did say that she was working on improving HP's website.

Yet another investor pointed to Apple's vision and success in the market. He wanted to know whether HP had a similar vision and had anything innovative "cooking in HP's labs."

Whitman reassured that HP was founded on the "power of innovation" and "disruptive technology." She did admit that the company, in recent years, has underfunded revolutionary innovation in favor of more evolutionary and incremental innovation.

"We've got to place some bets on disruptive or revolutionary innovation," she said.

The executive qualified that she's hesitant to purchase revolutionary innovation through acquisitions and cautioned that the company will be making such purchases less frequently.

Whitman said she is a "big believer in focus" and encourages her leaders to just do "a few small things well."

HP has had a rocky year. After less than a year on the job, HP ousted CEO Léo Apotheker last September and appointed Whitman in his stead. Just one month prior, Apotheker had shocked the industry by announcing that HP was abandoning development of webOS devices and hinting that it might spin-off its PC business. The news sent HP's stock into a freefall.

Whitman was left to deal with cleaning up after Apotheker's dramatic announcements. She announced last October that HP would in fact keep its PC business. Last December, she announced that HP would keep webOS and contribute it to the open source community.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]



  • Reply 1 of 129
    sipadansipadan Posts: 107member
    Captain, isn't that an iceberg coming by starboard?
  • Reply 2 of 129
    Coz We aren't them
  • Reply 3 of 129
    mike fixmike fix Posts: 270member
    I remember once when HP made fun of Apple for giving tours of Jobs' garage. Now Apple is building a new campus on land that was once owned by HP.
  • Reply 4 of 129
    IMHO, a big part of HP's downfall is a lack of quality. I have an HP calculator that was built sometime between 1982 and 1989. That's at least 23 years ago. And it's still going strong. And the HP-12C, first introduced in 1981, is still being sold today.

    On the other hand, I bought a new HP calculator a few years ago so my son could use it for homework, with the expectation that I would get it when he was done. Even though he didn't abuse it (there aren't any cracks or scratches) the keyboard did not survive a full 3 years.

    HP used to be known for high quality, carefully thought out equipment. Now they're more known for mid-tier PCs and throwaway inkjets. That's not how you build brand loyalty. As long they're more concerned about being number 1 or 2 in each market than in building equipment that's "insanely great" in capabilities AND quality, their malaise will continue.
  • Reply 5 of 129
    cycomikocycomiko Posts: 716member
    How would have the world been if HP forced ownership on Woz for the Apple I
  • Reply 6 of 129
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    HP shareholders question why company isn't more like Apple?

    Plain simple: because HP uses Microsoft products (Windows, etc), and they are CRAP!
  • Reply 7 of 129
    aizmovaizmov Posts: 989member
    After the way HP handled it's Palm acquisition I have no faith in them. They had something good and with some work could be made into something great and they squandered it.
  • Reply 8 of 129
    then they need to fire everyone at the top, starting with the board. All the non-contributors need to be fired as well.

    This is exactly what Steve Jobs did. He did not just cut the fat, he remade Apple into what it needed to be.

    Meg is seeming more and more like HPs new puppet. She says what everyone wants to hear, but do not have, or given real authority. It is probably only a matter of time until HP decides to blame and fire her as well.

    Neither HP, Microsoft, Samsung, Acer nor any company in Apple's industry is willing to make the hard decisions, hence stuck where they are and will be for a long, long time. No company death, just a long drawn out empty existence losing money and chasing the market share.

    Companies with HPs caliber should not keep execs and employees who only want to keep cashing until retirement day. Fascination with market share while receiving no real ROI needs to stop.

    None of this will happen of course. Newer companies that change with the market have better luck at rising to the top than these old dogs that pretend to want change, but are unwilling to take the steps to make it happen.

    Sorry fatcats. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
  • Reply 9 of 129
    asciiascii Posts: 5,936member
    The question implies that if HP just followed the same procedures as Apple, they would have the same results. But there's no procedure for creativity.

    The only real thing you can do to enhance creativity is hire people who really care about what they're working on. But that means people who want to make things, not money. And like most CEOs I suspect Meg is an expert at making money, and couldn't build something to save her life, so it sets the wrong tone from the top down. How about promoting from within.
  • Reply 10 of 129
    RIM already did that.

    Promoting from within would only perpetuate HP's current ineffective corporate culture. HP resembles that Office Space movie with its inane executives with delusions of grandeur. Unfortunately, it is now the norm rather than the exception.

    No, HP wants change but is unwilling to make the hard decisions. They will fire employees at the bottom first before addressing the problem at the top.

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post

    How about promoting from within.

  • Reply 11 of 129
    maccherrymaccherry Posts: 924member
    To be fare to Meg, who in my opinion is out the door in a year or less, HP has peaked and is now a planned obsolescence , 5000 pound lazy a$$ gorilla.

    Their printers are cheap with over priced ink.

    Their pcs are nothing but wintel boxes with their effing name stamped on the side.

    Their calculator are pathetic now. Tell me why the f*** do their high end graphing calcs still use the same damn UI from 20 years ago?
  • Reply 12 of 129
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    HP used to be a little bit more like Apple, in that they were a high-quality, high-margin, moderate volume business. Then they idiotically bought Compaq, a low-quality, low-margin, high-volume business. The worst possible clash of corporate cultures ensued and devastated HP.

    The way for HP to become more like Apple is to spin off Compaq.
  • Reply 13 of 129
    What a grim smile... are those her upper or lower teeth?
  • Reply 14 of 129
    Originally Posted by maccherry View Post

    To be fare to Meg, who in my opinion is out the door in a year or less, HP has peaked and is now a planned obsolescence , 5000 pound lazy a$$ gorilla.

    Their printers are cheap with over priced ink.

    Their pcs are nothing but wintel boxes with their effing name stamped on the side.

    Their calculator are pathetic now. Tell me why the f*** do their high end graphing calcs still use the same damn UI from 20 years ago?

    Yikes, they just keep going through CEOs. Maybe the CEOs are not the problem but the board as Larry Ellison has said in the past. They appear to be boneheads.
  • Reply 15 of 129
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    ...but, but HP are winning, look at their market share.

  • Reply 16 of 129
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    Talent. Talent. Talent.

    Meg was turned down for work at Apple.

    HP stopped being considered innovative around 1994.

    Sun Engineers I used to eat lunch with wanted to work at NeXT and later Apple.

    It starts at the top. You cannot create a Steve Jobs. You cannot create a Jony Ivy.

    Very few companies have natural leaders. Lots of narcissism, but very little leadership.

    Imagination and a high aesthetic for taste and how to shape it is not taught. You discover it or your do not. Lots of friends come from various engineering, liberal arts and business backgrounds.

    All talented to do tasks, when a solid vision is in place. Creating that vision is an entirely different ball of wax. It either surfaces as a child and grows from there as you get older or it does not.

    Meg couldn't lead a creative, highly driven engineering vision to fruition due to having none of these qualities in her.

    Odd, weird and unique were all qualities described of Steve as he grew up and developed Apple, then NeXT, PIXAR and back at Apple.

    There are tons of degrees in the Valley. Not so much when it comes to personalities that stand out in a crowd.

    Steven P. Jobs is an original. It's not something you see more than once or twice in a life time.
  • Reply 17 of 129
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,589member
    Apotheker's actions were correct IMHO. HP should follow IBM not Apple as an example. This about turn is akin to Kodak going back to silver halides to save their ass.
  • Reply 18 of 129
    umrk_labumrk_lab Posts: 550member
    Well Steve indicated the recipe, which is pretty simple (to understand, I mean ...) : design and manufacture insanely great products, and the consumers will open their purse ...
  • Reply 19 of 129
    Originally Posted by Granmastak View Post

    Yikes, they just keep going through CEOs. Maybe the CEOs are not the problem but the board as Larry Ellison has said in the past. They appear to be boneheads.

    Agreed. Their biggest problem is -- and has been, since Fiorina days -- the Board. Combative, suspicious, incompetent, and dysfunctional.

    Meg Whitman came from there too.

    HP is finished. Unless shareholders vote out the existing Board and install a new one.
  • Reply 20 of 129
    mcrcnmcrcn Posts: 27member
    HP and its PC competitors are in a race to the bottom trying to be cut throat on price and have no interest in their customers. Until PC companies figure out they are in business to make a profit, they will continue to litter the road with fail computer companies of the past.
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