Every PC shipped by Hewlett-Packard, beginning in 2012, will include the ability to run webOS, the mobile operating system HP acquired last year in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. However, HP is not abandoning Microsoft just yet. The company still plans to offer Microsoft’s Windows operating system as well as productivity tools such as Office.
This is just one of the changes being put into place by the PC maker’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker, according to a March 9 report in Bloomberg Business Week.
Under former HP CEO Mark Hurd-who resigned in August 2010 after being found in violation of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct, following an allegedly inappropriate relationship with an HP contractor-cost-cutting was a priority, more than research and development or software growth. By including webOS on its PCs, Apotheker hopes to “create a massive platform,” he told Bloomberg, and so attract application developers to the OS-a necessity, if HP is going to effectively compete against the Apple iPhone and Android-running handsets in the smartphone market HP entered with its purchase of Palm.
While the Apple App Store currently features more than 350,000 applications, and Google’s Android Market has swelled to 250,000, webOS’s application offerings number approximately 6,000.
Other planned changes include a renewed emphasis on product quality-which not only keeps customers happy but lowers service and warranty costs for a company, Apotheker told Bloomberg-as well as creating new channels of communication between product groups and growing HP’s software holdings.
On Feb. 14, HP acquired Veritica, and Apotheker said he’s looking for additional software companies that can help HP improve device security and enable customers to analyze large amounts of data. SAP, the software maker that Apotheker was CEO of until Feb. 2010, is not a consideration, he added, and neither is Salesforce.com.
Additionally, Apotheker also plans to treat HP’s employees as more of a company resource, and to treat India, where HP has thousands of staff, as a proper market, versus just a source of low-cost labor.
“HP has lost its soul,” Apotheker told Bloomberg. “The first thing I wanted to do when I joined HP was listen to the people. The rank and file usually know about all the shortcomings.”
Apotheker and his team have their work cut out for them, competing in a PC market that’s been posting modest sales, a smartphone market jammed with competitors and, soon, a tablet market in which just about every major phone and PC manufacturer is or plans to compete. In February, HP finally introduced its TouchPad, a 9.7-inch tablet that weights 1.5 pounds, features a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and will run the webOS operating system.
More than just compete, HP hopes to become a market leader. “I hope one day people will say ‘this is as cool as HP,’ not ‘as cool as Apple,'” Apotheker told the BBC in an interview earlier this year.
Cool is something Apotheker is also taking a new approach to. His business style reportedly earned him the nickname “the Polar Bear” among French SAP colleagues (“solitary, approachable-looking, but deadly, if crossed,” wrote Bloomberg). Recently, however, he purchased a home in California, miles from HP’s Silicon Valley headquarters. Still maintaining a home in Paris, Apotheker says he plans to treat HP like the global company it is and not be confined to his office.
“I consider myself a Californian now,” he told Bloomberg. “I can even say ‘awesome,’ and ‘cool.'”