HP Phone Home

HP Phone Home

Article from Issue 132/2011

As you will see if you read our news, Hewlett Packard, which everyone calls HP, was big this month. The computer giant announced some sweeping changes, including sweeping changes to undo the sweeping changes they announced a few months ago.

Sweeping changes are always part of the scene in an economic downturn, but I can’t help thinking it is better to figure out what you want to do and sweep in one direction, rather than trying to sweep several ways at once.

As a cultural icon, HP predates the personal computer era. When I was a teenager, no one had a smartphone, but all the geeky kids had calculators, and HP calculators were the coolest and geekiest calculators of all. With their elegant design and distinctive reverse polish notation, they washed coolness back onto the owner. At once simple, yet inscrutable to the uninitiated, they were the iPhone of their era. But that was many years ago. HP’s mystique didn’t make the transition into the computer era.

Their printers had a solid reputation for a while, but HP was one of many computer vendors to wake up one day and discover that the PC hardware market just doesn’t lend itself to mystical brand names. In today’s world, people buy PCs the way they buy cans of corn and beans at the grocery – a vague memory of a logo lingers until around dinnertime, but no one has any real expectation that one particular logo leads to a significantly different experience.

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