Then, suddenly, Meg Whitman stood alone at HP.
With the departure of chairman Ray Lane and two other board members from Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Whitman finally finds herself with the freedom to complete the turnaround of the embattled company. The question then becomes whether the vision Whitman brings to the table is one that will work in the new computing era.
Lane was an enterprise computing specialist. His time at Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) showed a deep understanding of the needs of large corporate clients. Unfortunately, that experience – and his championing of the disastrous acquisition of Autonomy – didn’t seem to have any effect on Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ)’s fortunes.
The overall plan Lane stated is a good one. Switch from making cheap standalone PCs to selling large integrated packages of hardware and software for the largest clients. In addition, bring the company’s skills with PCs to the tablet market. On the face of it, that should be a direction that will pay off. It simply hasn’t with Lane at the helm.
Catching Up on Tablets
There are a lot of players in the tablet computing market. It won’t be easy for Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) to compete with monsters like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). All of them have a strong hold on a portion of the tablet market and will be difficult to dislodge. Still, HP is doing the right thing by using Google’s Android operating system in its new tablet. Pricing it at $169 is an even better move to grab market share fast.
Holding the Business Market
Whitman also showed something in the selection of Android. With that, Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) walked away from partner Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). HP products have used MSFT operating systems for quite a while and the move could indicate that the company is distancing itself from MSFT as it prepares to go after the big corporate clients that Microsoft also tries to lock up long-term.
By going after the enterprise-level business account, Whitman is making the statement that she knows where the future of computing is heading. Businesses will want efficient, affordable and effective systems that cover their needs while integrating with tablet computers that executives can carry around and work on. That’s the same space that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has identified with its Surface tablet. If Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) can successfully maintain and grow market share in that space it can afford to let Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) run wild in the consumer space.