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HP: we need to be more 'disruptive' like Apple

updated 06:55 pm EDT, Wed March 21, 2012

Apple a core focus of HP shareholder meeting

HP's 2012 shareholder meeting on Wednesday saw Apple become a centerpiece of its conversation. During the question and answer session, most questions centered around why HP was not more like its fellow Southern Bay Area counterpart, which had a tenfold larger market worth even though it spent less on research and development. When asked if she had a vision like the late Steve Jobs, CEO Meg Whitman argued that the company had to place more bets on "disruptive" innovation like Apple, creating categories or fundamentally changing them instead of the mostly "evolutionary" approach HP used.

"Whether it's in HP Labs or in R&D, where can we change the name of the game?" she asked, adding that the company should "focus on doing a few things really well instead of giving everything just a little bit."

Whitman did promise "big changes" in printing, servers, and other divisions, although she wasn't clear on what those were. The executive did vow to reduce the company's dependence on bolting on new technology through acquisitions and more on "organic," internal development. A stronger emphasis was coming on research and development as well as core products.

One shareholder suggested HP emulate Apple's retail strategy with its own stores, so that he didn't have to wait "two to three weeks" just to get a printer fixed. HP does have its own stores in Brazil, Whitman said, but much of her emphasis was on major improvements to HP's website, where she wanted both a better shopping experience as well as much faster turnaround on service.

Another grilled HP over what he saw as truly exciting technology at HP. He too pointed to Jobs, noting that Apple's co-founder said he succeeded by making products that were "just better" and "years ahead of the competition," most of all in mobile. It was possible to simply walk down the street and buy something similar to what HP offered, the shareholder said, calling into doubt HP's claims to innovation.

Whitman countered that HP was first or second in virtually every business and mainly needed to improve by tailoring products more directly to exact needs. She was nonetheless deferring to Jobs, acknowledging that his view had worked well for Apple. "We all have to applaud Apple for its success," she said. "Steve Jobs is the business leader of our generation."

by MacNN Staff



  1. cashxx

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They are more disruptive

    They won't fix the drivers for OS X for the HP 2600 Color Laser printer. Along with many others been fighting it for almost 2 years now and emailed Meg directly and still isn't fixed and thats been about 4 months now. Shame it would take an engineer about an hour or so to fix the problem and they won't do it. Paid almost $350 for a home office printer with 50% of toner left and can't use it because of a driver. So yea they have been pretty disruptive for me on a daily basis!

  1. chas_m




    Say what you want about HP (I don't use any of their products so I have no opinion) but I think Ms. Whitman was rather classy to say what she did (quoted at the end of the article) about Jobs. She can't be the next Steve Jobs any more than Tim Cook can, but that's missing the point. It's the ability to learn from what worked for Jobs and apply it selectively where appropriate. Some of the quoted remarks make me thing she may have done so.

  1. Nigel2112

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No Jobs

    HP cannot emulate Apple as it is simply not in their DNA.
    As soon as you hear someone say, "We need to do a better job of..." it's game over.
    Corporate DNA is how the entity -naturally- behaves, not how the latest boss suddenly decides it's going to behave.
    This is why Micros**t will always always always behave like a school bully and Apple will always always always be one step ahead of everybody else.
    And it's why HP thinks it is 'innovating' when in fact it's just a box assembler for Redmond.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    they don't get it

    they just don't. "We need to be more disruptive" is like me saying "I need to be richer and thinner, then I'd be able to date a supermodel."

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...what's their plan? It's never going to work as long as they rely on a third party to supply the software. They have to own the entire user experience in order to succeed.

  1. MisterMe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The irony is...

    ... that HP used to be an innovative company. My first calculator was an HP 25C. I loved it. I owned many HP calculators since then. My last was a HP 49GX. It was impossible to know without looking that I had pressed the keys. I now use an HP 48GX emulator on my iPhone. It wasn't just calculators. HP was the name in laboratory benchtest equipment. They spun-off the division. They made desktop computers when Wozniak and Jobs were still in high school. They let Jobs and Wozniak walk out and build their own personal computer.

    Brain-dead decision followed stupid strategy followed dumb idea. HP has taken its stellar reputation and flushed it down the toilet. It is a same beyond measure.

  1. aardman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Shades of . . .

    the Singaporean government's campaign to get Singaporeans to be more creative. (Okay everyone, we shall now be more creative. Begin.)

    The phrase that comes to mind is "regimented creativity". Well, one must admit that is quite an original and creative concept though, innit?

  1. macnnoel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    don't know

    she talks the talk...

    but can HP walk the walk?

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    HP is a technology leader

    But it is too confusing to buy their computers. Their printers are first rate ... but isn't there a move away from printing? I actually think this company can kick serious butt -- including Apple's! Not 100 percent sure a failed aspiring politician is the person to lead them to greatness, but ... some movement is necessary and APotheker was a bozo of the 1st order. We shall see.

  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    HP, the graveyard of good ideas

    HP's problem is the culture of shooting down in flames anyone who comes up with a new idea, or suggests a different business model. Apotheker is a typical example, but his predecessors didn't fare well either. Unless this mindset changes, HP will not innovate at the customer end of things no matter how much innovation they bury in the R&D labs. Sadly, they seem to be controlled by the unimaginative and completely dominated by the status quo.

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