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Meg Whitman's HP plans seem to be more buzzwords than solutions

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Meg Whitman's HP plans seem to be more buzzwords than solutions
HP CEO Meg Whitman has had a pretty difficult road to travel in her first 5 months at the helm of the company, and now she has detailed what she sees as the future of HP both in terms of hardware and in its as yet failed software in webOS. Whitman was insistent that, despite setbacks, her time as CEO of HP has brought a new culture and more focus to the company. 

In an interview with CRN, Whitman said that one of her first acts as CEO was to essentially do away with the divide between executives and the rest of the company staff. She has ordered a barbed wire fence which had demarcated the executive parking lot to be removed, and now all employees can use that space. And, she has done away with executive suites, so even she works from a cubicle. In her opinion, the over-the-cubicle conversations are the ones that "really matter". 

Whitman also talked about the plan forward for HP, in which she insisted that at its core HP is a hardware company, although she did admit that HP has become something of a software company as well. However, when talking software, Whitman did not bring up webOS until directly asked about the platform. Instead, she seemed to want to emphasize that HP's focus with software is in security. Overall, the themes that Whitman continuously came back to were security and enterprise.

This focus on enterprise could very well have been due to the fact she was being interviewed by CRN, a decidedly enterprise-centric publication, but Whitman didn't mention any consumer devices. She did say that HP will be making multiple Windows 8 tablets, first with an x86 chip, and once support is in place from Microsoft, HP will also build an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet. And again, Whitman stressed the company's focus on security and specifically in "protecting the enterprise's data." She continued to focus on security when comparing the strengths of a Windows 8 tablet compared to the iPad, as well as pushing Windows 8 as tablet for doing "real work". 

On the topic of webOS, Whitman acknowledges that the team was without focus for a while, and that the team has lost important members, but she is still confident that the platform will attract capable developers and engineers, especially since, "now there is a clear vision of what [HP is] trying to accomplish (with webOS)." Unfortunately, that plan forward wasn't really explained, and instead Whitman just fell back onto buzzwords that have no real meaning any more. Whitman said that webOS would have "huge advantages... over iOS, which is a closed system, [and] Android, which is incredibly fragmented and may ultimately be more closed with [Google's] acquisition of Motorola Mobility."

The trouble with saying that is it doesn't mean anything. Yes, iOS is closed, but that doesn't explain why webOS would be in any way better. We already know that the philosophy of webOS is in using HTML5 apps which is a more open process, but unless there are committed developers, that philosophy means nothing. Apple's core strengths are in design, integration, and developer support, and much of that depends on the closed aspect of iOS. Also, webOS will be open-source, meaning any company can use the platform on its hardware, but it also means that HP gets no licensing fees from those manufacturers, yet Whitman doesn't say exactly how that system will benefit HP. 

Then there are the comments towards Android, which are just fear-mongering at its worst, and again give no actual indication of why webOS will be any better. There is no mention of how or if HP will assert any control over webOS once it has been made open-source as Google has with Android. People toss around the word "fragmented" in regards to Android, but the truth is that without Google's guiding hand and AOSP coalition, there really would be true fragmentation in Android because it would be a complete free-for-all. At the very least, Google's proprietary top-half of Google Apps and standards creates a level of consistency in consumer Android devices. Not to mention, that aside from a possible green light for Motorola to sue Apple, Google has kept its promise to let Motorola act independently, and has not closed down Android in any way. 

Ultimately, Whitman claims to have a clear plan for HP, but that plan only seems to extend to enterprise products and Windows 8 tablets. And, even there Whitman talked about security and productivity of Windows 8 tablets, the power and design of the products, and HP's relationships with Microsoft and Intel, but didn't talk about the only real concern we have about Windows 8 tablets: the price

If there is a clear plan for webOS, Whitman hasn't let it be known, and instead relied on negative buzzwords that don't really have any meaning any more. As we've seen with Apple's revenue and sales reports, there is a huge market for "closed" systems. And, as we've seen from Android's continued rise in market share, there is a huge market for "open" systems. What Whitman didn't really mention was how webOS would fit into that market, nor how HP would benefit from any potential adoption of webOS. 

source: CRN

19 Comments
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posted on 04 Feb 2012, 11:18 2

1. itiswhatitis (Posts: 422; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)


Well, that's because she's still figuring what she should do with WebOS!!!

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 11:38

2. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2681; Member since: 26 May 2011)


If that's the case, she shouldn't have said, "now there is a clear vision of what we're trying to accomplish."

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 12:00 2

3. itiswhatitis (Posts: 422; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)


Well that's exactly what i'm talking about she wants to make them feel that they(HP) know exactly what they're doing as to make sure she keeps the investors happy!!But, after i read this article i felt like she's trying to run away from talking about Web OS

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 21:19 1

10. snowgator (Posts: 3244; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Come on, Micheal, get real. If she said that, we would all crucify her for not showing leadership or focus.

She and all of HP are really sitting in a difficult position with WeBOS. They couldn't sell it for a loss due to the stock holders already being shaky, but they are a hardware company that made a mistake trying to become a software company all at once.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 13:17 1

4. dejahu (Posts: 35; Member since: 01 Feb 2012)


At least she isn't making these bold, outlandish statements about how profitable the coming years are going to be. "The future couldn't be any brighter for HP" kind of stuff. She knows that webOS needs help. Finding a way to get the masses invested in their "roadmap" will bring more profitable ventures to the table.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 13:34

5. itiswhatitis (Posts: 422; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)


YEAH.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 13:48

6. JGuinan007 (Posts: 634; Member since: 19 May 2011)


I think HP is trying to make Web OS just like Android for Google but make it for enterpise users and conect with HP products

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 14:14

7. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5876; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Meg is just continuing her tradition of spewing pablum - she never knew how to run a company like HP (eBay is nothing like HP), and her days of being able to assimilate 'on-the-job' passed a long time ago.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 21:32 1

13. snowgator (Posts: 3244; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


"pablum"? Geez, Doug, make everyone run to a dictionary, why don't ya buddy?? :-)

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 15:01

8. jove39 (Posts: 1308; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


HP need to get rid of webos now...just like nokia getting rid of symbian...and HP need to focus on Android and Windows Phone/tablets...and on topf that HP need to come up strong and bank upon Microsoft's ecosystem by integrating Notebooks/Tablets/Phones as much as they can...however Microsoft is already doing that...HP should leverage it as much as possible :)

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 20:44

9. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 888; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


She hasn't got a clue....Look what she did with Ebay. She has no tech knowledge, and it shows. That's why she is downing the competition, and avoiding making a clear concise statement about her position, and direction with Web OS. Eliminating suites and parking lot fences is about all she is capable of doing at HP. HP needs a tech savvy leader, not a pencil pushing idiot. Let's see how long she last, and if they give her 117 million to leave like the last guy received.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 21:21

11. Tarkio (Posts: 30; Member since: 17 Jan 2012)


She's a complete stooge. She'll end up driving them into the ground if they keep here very long. I'd say 18 months of service, and she'll be out on her butt where she belongs.

posted on 04 Feb 2012, 21:30

12. snowgator (Posts: 3244; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


I am not as down on her as everyone else is. (Polictically motivated resentment, maybe? How dare HP hire a conservative female to run a tech company? Or am I just being a conspiracy peddler?) I think she can show great leadership and get the right people in the right place and get HP refocused on what they do best. She prevented them from dividing the company into 2 which would have been stupid, now has them refocused on hardware as is their bread and butter, and sounds like she is bringing the executives back down to normal levels and out of the clouds that they were ruling from on high. RIM could take a lesson from that.

I kinda see @QWIKSTRIKE's point, though. At some point, they will need an experienced tech to run HP, especially if they really want to open source WeBOS. I do not think it will work, and they will just end up selling it for pennies on the dollar at some point when they can afford to absorb the loss better. (What a waste.) But if they do try, Ms. Whitman may not be the right person to see it through.

posted on 05 Feb 2012, 00:01

14. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5876; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


"I am not as down on her as everyone else is. (Polictically motivated resentment, maybe?"

You might have a better argument if Meg had been better at running for governor. Probably the most damning ad that Jerry Brown's campaign ran was the one that juxtaposed quotes from Meg and Ahnold - they used the exact same words. The voters decided to forego the opportunity to let another neophyte screw things up any more than they already were.

posted on 05 Feb 2012, 02:50

15. snowgator (Posts: 3244; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Doug.... Doug... Doug.....

My whole point in throwing that line in there is that if she hadn't run for Governor, she would not be getting the grief she is. Apparently, in less than 6 months she is supposed to undo several billion dollars of mistakes. No chance. All she can do is get the right people in the right places to right the ship for HP. And, unfortunately for those of us who used and enjoyed WeBOS, that means returning HP to a hardware company first, everything else needs to support that. I see no room for WeBOS in those plans unless something grand happens.

And by the way- California's woes started before Arnold. Had he done even one bit of what he said he would after the recall, things would be better. But he didn't- he continued to use the tax payers money as his own piggy bank and he and the legislation that served with him just pandered to votes and special interest. I see no reason to hold Meg Whitman responsible for his failure. Got a crispy dollar bill that says things are no better after 4 years of Jerry Brown. California should be easily the most prosperous, economically sound state in our nation, and it shouldn't even be close.

posted on 05 Feb 2012, 11:26 1

16. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 888; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


Snowgator,come on man get a grip. Politics has nothing to do with her leadership role at HP. Look at her time while running EBAY, and the legacy that she left behind.
Amazon took off while Ebay lost its way. Most sellers on Ebay hate what she has done to Ebay while she was there. She took a great company, and turned it into a lean mean "nickle and dime company" to help boost the stock, but in the end managed to make lots of sellers go to Amazon to sell leaving Ebays stock in the toilet.

As for politics I am for neither dem or republican because they both suck, but as a Republican governor she would have done to California what she did at Ebay......run it into the toilet.

HP screwed up with WEBos. They could have developed a nice ecosystem around it like Apple did with I phone. That was their goal, but a terrible design and out dated hardware killed that project. Offering the platform at great prices showed them that they were not completely out of synch. They outsold any tablet sold during that fire sale. They should have used that as a spring board to go to the next level while flooding the Market with cheap WEBos tablets while getting the platform to where it needed to be, a faster processor, and a bigger screen for the phone.

Off topic Republicans are running America into the toilet, and they have a few Dem leaders helping them like Arlen Spectre, a republican turned Democrat to save his seat, and other self serving elected officials. These two parties that have their heads shoved so far up their own asses they don't realize the s**t they smell is their own.

They tell you to vote for them because they can create jobs while every self respecting economist is telling you that demand is the only job creator, besides cutting edge technology. Off shoring jobs has been their answer

They take jobs and off shore them, and then tell you to buy the products made over seas "Apple" "HP", and the others like them, while cutting your salary, or position. They then tell you they do it to save you money, and that you want it cheap, and can't have it both ways.
I tell you to look at their earnings report, and the cost of things, and ask them since they have off shored jobs why hasn't there been a decrease in product pricing. The pricing never got cheaper for many of the products. The labor cost savings were used to buoy their stock performance for stock holders, while board members and CEO's salaries like Meg Whitman went up. HP recently off shored jobs to bolster stock performance but then fired the last CEO paying 117 million to get rid of him. Rubenstein, and other WEBs top techs are walking out of HP since Meg Whitman's tenure. You might say it wasn't her fault....I say; she gave them no reason to stay based on what she has in store for them. Had she really known what she was doing, and had a real plan for WEBos they would not be jumping ship! Wake up......enough of this off topic bull crap because I can make a book on the facts not hear say!

posted on 05 Feb 2012, 13:36

17. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5876; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Well, QWIK, you kind of beat me to the reply to Snow.... :-)

One thing I would add is that a study by one of the top tier universities (it might have been Rutgers, but I am too lazy to do a search) showed the fiscal plan put forward by Davis would have left the state in a better financial position even after factoring in the impact of the Great Recession....

Lastly, California suffers from a dysfunctional legislative process - any fiscal legislation requires 2/3 majority in both houses of legislature to proceed to governor for signature. Want to reform the tax code to reduce rates but also remove exemptions? Better find a 2/3s majority in both houses or it ain't happening. This is economic terrorism of the worst sort. At some point, the Rs will drop to below 1/3, and the first order of business when that happens should be to amend the state constitution to remove the 2/3s in both houses requirement.

posted on 05 Feb 2012, 22:46

18. snowgator (Posts: 3244; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Okay, I should have stuck to my original statement of Ms. Whitman that if she hadn't run for Gov, she would not be getting the grief on these posts she is. The delving into the politics was stupid on my part. Yes, I do disagree with ya'll on most of your points, but no this ain't the place for it. We will call this my bad.

I really loved WeBOS, and I do not think HP can pull off open sourcing it, nor do I think they want to. I think they are trying to get it to a place where it can be open sourced and therefore is worth a little more. In the end, it will probably be sold off for it's patents and that will be the end of it.
I do agree with you Qwickstrike she is not the person for this job long term. But I do think she should get a year or a little more to improve the structure. I bet she does fine with that. Than step down and let someone with tech knowledge take over.

WeBOS- what a waste.

posted on 06 Feb 2012, 07:50

19. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 888; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


Snowgator, your original statement is the flawed part of the message. This has nothing to do with her running for governor. She just plain sucks as a CEO. She was on the board of HP when WEBos was bought to HP She is clueless and this should not be about her running for a position that was never granted to her.

Look at Ebay and what she did while running Ebay. She left Ebay a place where sellers left by the droves for Amazon.

Today's CEO's suck, because instead of doing whats right for their company they do whats right for the stock holder. Google took heat last year for taking profits, and using it for infrastructure R&D. It paid off and everyone is happy now that they did this. When they announced losses due to R&D the stock tanked.

If CEO's don't take time to reinvest in their technology the stock profits may grow, but with old fragmented aging technology they will eventually drown......ergo HP!

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