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23
Sep
2011

HP's hit and miss strategy

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Written by Vedran Dakic   

Motorola FireAfter all of the latest hoopla, it's really hard to imagine what HP's next move should or would be. PC business spinoff has left more then a few heads scratching. WebOS handlind was a complete and utter disaster. Going all-in into high-margin enterprise business as a complete service provider is a process that wouldn't bring big bucks overnight. And investors do have a right to now what's the plan gonna be...

If you've been following the IT business for a longer period of time, you probably realize that HP and IBM (and a few others) have been around the block for awhile. Decades, actually. And ever since the somewhat strange moves by HP in Carly Fiorina's time (Compaq), it has become increasingly noticeable that HP has lost a bit of its vision. On the other hand, IBM's moves during the last 10 or so years have been perfectly logical - business driven and led by some very, very smart people. Selling hard drive busines in 2002 was the first step in that direction. Then, IBM sold PC Business to Lenovo in 2004/5, and Lenovo runs it (very successfully, I might add) to this day. How's it possible that IBM not only stayed afloat, but grew even more stronger as a company, without the ballast of "once The hardware company"?

The fact of the matter is - IBM had a vision and a strategy, and that was quite a few years before HP woke up to the possibility that something might or should change. We're talking about 9 years (HDD) and 6/7 years (PC business), yet their stock is by far the strongest it's ever been. It's worth close to a 3x from the time when they sold HDD business, and more then 2x what it was when they sold the PC part of the company. Sure, there were a couple of dips here and there, but there's an incredible amount of strategy in IBM's moves and if those moves were right back then, they're even more right when you look back and just think what they've done.

Some of the latest HP moves were kind of a knee-jerk reaction - Oracle shot them in the foot with their "we're gonna do our thing, screw Itanium" thing, mobile part with WebOS hasn't exactly been the greatest thing ever (why did they buy Palm, btw, any sense in that, especially now?), and then with all of the announcements about spinning off the PC business... Some of us are still scratching our heads. More then a few very strange - or very late - decisions.

Naming ex-eBay CEO their own is another move that raises a few eyebrows because... This wouldn't be the first pick of many people. I mean, eBay and HP have almost nothing in common. After all of the Mark Hurd mess, and the slapping that happened with the man joining Oracle, I would've presumed that they'd go a bit more... Steve Jobs style, as much as possible. They need someone with leadership experience (of a very, very big company), and also a very IT/enterprise-savvy person. Maybe this is a temporary move. We'll see.

The only thing that's absolutely certain is that they need to make some moves. And quickly. And I hope - for HP's sake - that they do.

 

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