In his first significant interview since taking the top job at technology giant Hewlett-Packard, HP CEO Leo Apotheker says he believes the company is very strong but has weaknesses that need to be addressed. One is expanding its businesses outside the United States market, but another is taking too much time to get its products to market.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Apotheker enthused that HP is an extraordinary company that occupied the number one or number two position in each of its businesses, and is blessed with a strong heritage and very local customers. “What’s the weakness?” Apotheker asked. “It’s not that we aren’t innovative; it’s that it takes too long to get to market.”
Tech enthusiasts who were eager for an “iPad-killer” Windows 7 tablet device from HP back in January 2010 probably couldn’t agree with that statement more: HP’s slate was repeatedly delayed then transformed from a tablet product for consumers designed to compete with the iPad to an expensive niche product targeting only enterprises. And while HP showed foresight and commitment when it bought Palm almost a year ago for $1.2 billion, the first real fruits of that purchase—the TouchPad, Veer, and Palm 3—aren’t due to go on sale until this spring—and, in marketing terms, “spring” lasts until late June.
Since taking over at HP, Apotheker has largely avoided the spotlight and making broad statements about the company and his plans to transform it. In the interview, Apotheker notes that when he was approached about the HP job he found the prospect overwhelming due to the sheer size and scope of the company’s operations. However, Apotheker engaged in a round-the-world “listening tour,” meeting tens of thousands of HP employees and now feels comfortable in the role: “I am totally committed, and it is probably the most fascinating thing ever in my life.”