Mobile Didn't Fit Into Apotheker's Vision for HP

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-08-22 Print this article Print

6. Leo Apotheker

When HP CEO Leo Apotheker came in, it was clear that many things were going to change. Apotheker, a former SAP CEO and career-long software industry executive, immediately started talking about software and discussing his vision for the future of HP. Mobile didn't seem to have a high priority in those discussions. As soon as the mobile business started to falter, Apotheker, who has no real experience in hardware to begin with, saw a chance to kill it. Make no mistake, one of the key reasons HP's mobile business failed was because of Apotheker's desired market focus.

7. Bad timing

When it comes to the release of the TouchPad and the latest version of WebOS, HP's timing was horrible. The company ostensibly believed that by delivering its latest and greatest solutions over the summer, it could give itself enough of a buffer from Apple's product launches to carve out a piece of the market. But what HP failed to realize is that Apple is still incredibly dominant in the mobile market. And so far, that dominance doesn't appear to be waning. The better idea would have been to wait until next year when maybe (just maybe) consumers might have been more willing to accept a new solution in the marketplace. Right now, the novelty of Apple's products has yet to wear off.

8. The enterprise didn't care

If there is any market that's central to the success or failure of HP, it's the enterprise. The company has long relied upon that market to sell its high-end hardware and software products that drive its profits and growth. However, the firm's mobile products did not catch on in the enterprise. In fact, most IT decision makers scoffed at the idea of adopting WebOS. That hurt HP's mobile efforts in a big way.

9. Distractions galore

The problem at HP prior to its decision to discontinue the TouchPad and shutter its WebOS hardware business was that the company seemed distracted. It was trying its luck in a host of markets and trying to get a new executive acquainted with how the firm was run. All the while, it was trying to salvage the pieces of a Palm mobile phone unit that was shattered by the HP acquisition just a year ago. It was a perfect storm of sorts at HP, and that mobile business was a critically ill stepchild.

10. It played Apple's game instead of Google's

HP erroneously believed that it could be Apple. The company decided that in order to be successful in the mobile market, it would need to offer both hardware and software. But the plan backfired. Instead, HP should have simply followed Google's lead and either used Android in the devices it developed or licensed WebOS to other vendors. In either case, it would have been a better move. Too bad HP didn't see it that way.

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Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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