Why Hewlett-Packard needs to stop selling computers

If CEO Meg Whitman doesn't completely reinvent the company, HP will end up like Kodak or BlackBerry -- just another case study in corporate neglect.

By TheStreet.com Staff Nov 14, 2013 11:48AM

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman © Imaginechina/CorbisBy Rocco PendolaTheStreet.com logo


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The tech gods organized this recall, even if temporary, of the $279 Chromebook laptop that Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) made for Google (GOOG). They want HP out of the business of making computers because it's an artist formerly known as RIM-like embarrassment that they're still in it.

Laptops. Tablets. Potentially a smartphone. Printers. These things spell certain death.

HP's not a carbon copy of Kodak (KODK), but it's close enough. Same with any BlackBerry (BBRY) comparison you're tempted to make.

Kodak, as TheStreet's Joe Deaux so perfectly chronicled this past summer, had the first digital camera. RIM previewed the notion of the smartphone with the original BlackBerry. Neither company could see things through.

It's exactly the same situation at HP with one major exception: HP has got nothing. It doesn't have some great technology it can morph into a game changer. It doesn't have a device that predates Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. It's got nothing.

The sooner Meg Whitman realizes this, the better.

If Whitman's any kind of leader, she'll acknowledge that HP has nothing, take the void and turn it into something meaningful. That's a gargantuan task. But, given how often we're told Whitman is such a great leader and CEO, she should be up to it.

We laud Whitman because we consider the turnaround of something that already exists -- HP's largely pathetic business -- more likely than fresh success after tearing something apart and putting it back together again. If you think about it, this is quite a weak endorsement.

A great leader would look at Hewlett Packard, realize the current iteration has no chance of success against a company such as Apple, and reject the same culture of obviousness that plagues most brick-and-mortar retailers. A great leader would earn her respect by undertaking a wholesale transformation of a dying business. She would reinvent Hewlett-Packard, turning it into something unrecognizable to itself.

But she won't. She will not take this Chromebook recall as a sign. Instead, she'll turn a blind eye, stubbornly forge ahead and fail miserably.

History will not take the time to distinguish Kodak from Blackberry and Blackberry from HP. And it shouldn't. It will just line up HP as another case study in corporate neglect and abject failure.

More from TheStreet.com:

Nov 14, 2013 10:00PM
This article tells me nothing. It's just an opinion without supporting documentation. It provides no suggestion of what to do with the company after "getting out of the computer business". Let us objectively bring solutions to the scene.
Nov 14, 2013 10:01PM
The person who wrote this article doesn't have a clue.
Nov 14, 2013 10:09PM
Hp makes the best computers around, beats dell and for sure the crappy gateways.I haVE OWNED 4 HP DESK TOPS AND NOW A LAPTOP AND WOULDNT BUY ANYTHING ELSE.
Nov 14, 2013 11:48PM

This has got to be the most bias/discriminative article I've yet to read.  The quality of MSN information has taken a tremendous hit to their credibility by publishing/pushing such garbage on consumers and investors alike.  This is one of the worst examples of objectivity that I've seen to date. 


HP is a great computer and I recommend them to all my clients when they need something new or better that is suited to their price range and need.  It would be all to simple to make a heading that fits the given information.  HP may not be making a big splash in the mobile market but they are still one of the best computers you can buy today.

Nov 14, 2013 10:31PM
I disagree with the idiot that wrote this report. I got out of the Navy, I bought my first laptop which was a del, a big heavy pile of crap. I toted that heavy laptop to my classes hear at UT. While in my Junior year I saw someone with a nice looking laptop and saw HP on it and asked about it. I picked it up, and the first thing I noticed was the difference in the weight of the computer. As I used it I liked the spacing of the keys very easy to type on the computer. I was hooked, I went out and got one, that was in 1998. I have now owned four HP laptop computers, and I just ordered one and got it and I'm very happy with the new laptop. My only complaint is that you can get just a Three year warranty on the laptops, and yes that is threw the extended warranty. HP tells me after Three Years, they do not keep parts for them. On my old laptop I got a new hard drive for it, and have it up and running, but HP treats there long time customers well I think. HP gave me an extended warranty with my new laptop and lo Jack for two years free. The HP person I spoke with helped me build the laptop over the phone and I got everything sent to me in the time i was told. I have looked at Apple Computers, and Acer, and Dell, and some other brands. To me HP has the keys spaced right, they are not crammed together! I like hop there laptops open, they seem better made, and the weight with the battery installed on this new one is great, and HP has found away to have the metal finish which I like over the black plastic, that now has very little heat while it sits in your lap. My old one I just replaced had the bigger battery, but but this new one has longer charging over the bigger battery I paid extra for on the old laptop. So HP is improving there computers, they have reduced the heat, that the computer use to produce, and the longer charging time. The finger scanner on the HP I like, if I'm away from my computer, unless you cut off my finger you can not access that laptop without my finger print. I like that peace of mind, if a person were to try to steal my laptop. If I ever have an issue day or night, could be at 2a.m. I call HP I get a live person that helps me with my issues. The people over at HP always seem nice, I have even spoke to repair people, just asking them questions, before building my new HP Computer, they did not know for sure if I was or not, but they took the time to give me there opinion. And to be fair, I gave them the chance to say Dell, or Apple or another brand might be better. But you know what they told me? They all said they have HP computers. To me that says something about the brand, and the people that work for HP. So just a side note, I had a regular flip cell phone for years, I know everyone said it was so 2000 and I needed to catch up and get a smart phone. So when my contract ended I went with a friend who was on her third smart phone. I bought an Apple IPhone 5, and too me I am missing the hype. I don't need all the B.S. it has, I want use half of it, texting I had, picture mail I had, and If i wanted to check the internet I could with my old flip phone and yes it even had GPS. I miss my old flip phone, the main reason is, with the case, it's too dam big, and without the case it is too dam small. So just because who ever wrote this lame report about HP, get a life, there are those of us who like HP desktop and the HP laptop. My thoughts are some one got upset because they keep seeing HP in TV shows, and they are upset it is not a brand they like. So ignore this crap, HP computers are great in my book, and I encourage anyone to go call HP or go online and look at the cool stuff HP has to offer before believing this report. Just to end this I do not work for HP, I just dislike people who talk out there ****, before they breath..
Nov 15, 2013 8:27AM
this article makes no sense whatsoever - the writer should take his/her own advice & look for a new career
Nov 14, 2013 11:12PM

the only PC i ever buy is HP...good quality...if they screwed up one thing...no big deal...what they need to do is go after the private industry and push Dell to the side

Nov 15, 2013 1:32AM
WHEN will these so-called "experts" who think they know everything about computers [THEY DON'T]. just STFU about all the "new" wireless crap that a LOT of people DON'T WANT. And will never buy. I DON'T WANT AND DON'T "NEED" a "smart" phone for a couple of reasons [1] I use my phone to CALL PEOPLE [a radical concept, I know, but sometimes, you've got to be a rebel] [2] If I need to do email, look up something online, I have a perfectly good computer AT HOME. [3] Unlike some people, I DON'T NEED to be hooked up 24-7, because it's a bigger time waster than saver. [4] I refuse to spend the ridiculous sums of money every month on a "smart" phone plan that I DON'T need and DON'T want.
Nov 14, 2013 11:49PM
What Crapola!! I have several HP laptops and have very happy with them. They have been very stable platforms compared to some of the others, and I Would! not! buy an Apple laptop, they are too limited.
Nov 15, 2013 12:08AM
Where did this writer come from? Disgruntled ex-HP-employee? Freeway shooter?  If I ask "What's it like outside" and you say "It is 32 degrees." Good, then I'll grab a coat. But if you say "It's cold"...well, you see the difference?
Nov 15, 2013 7:01AM
My family is on its third HP desktop in 15 years as we update in an average of every five years.  They may not be the best thing out there, but they have been very good for us.  I am currently on our HP laptop now and it has been very good also.  I have shopped around and looked at what else is out there, and for the money, I am happy with HP.  BTW, at work we use Dells and in the last four years they have replaced my computer twice.
Nov 15, 2013 5:39AM
Businesses still need computers to get things done and HP makes good workstations. Do we really want every company to be Apple anyhow. My coworker just showed my his newest iPhone and I don't think it's anywhere near as good as my older HTC One S Android phone. Wait, it probably cost more so that makes it better.
Nov 15, 2013 11:50AM
Well, my HP computer works just fine. It's a lot better than the two Gateways that blew up on me over the last decade. Now there's a company that should quit making computers.   This is a pretty biased article that just seems like bashing to me. Obviously Rocco has it in for Meg Whitman.
Nov 15, 2013 3:02AM
I just do not know. Maybe after the operating system train wreck called Windows 8-8.1 Microsoft needs to pull out of the OS market. LOL
Nov 15, 2013 12:53AM

 Pathetic journalism – even for MSN.


Most computers and printers have more capability than most owners want, but less reliability and less life and less

simplicity.  Customers don't like that arrangement,  and it doesn't have to be that way.






Nov 15, 2013 8:53AM

If HP should stop selling computers, then so should Apple.  But yet, I don't hear anyone telling Apple that they should stop selling Macs, despite the fact that their iPhones and iPads outsells all their Macs by almost 5 to 1. What HP should start doing is making their own smartphones and tablets so they can compete better with Apple and Samsung in the mobile market, while they can still continue to make PCs for consumers who still want them. Besides, most people fail to realize that smartphones and tablets ARE computers, so even if HP stopped making PCs and started making phones and tablets, they'll still be making computers anyway.

Nov 15, 2013 11:53AM
My company buys six figures' worth of HP computers and printers each year. PCs are NOT going away and HP is a top-tier supplier. The writer of this article clearly has "consumer market" blinders on, oblivious to what is going on in the B2B world.
Nov 15, 2013 1:45PM
APPLE?  What inovation has apple had since steve jobs died?  APPLE is overpriced and uninovative!
Nov 15, 2013 2:07PM

Meg Whitman is what HP needs to rid themselves of it they want to get back to being profitable. Everyone of her ideas to date have been bad because she only looks towards maximizing short term profits while completely ignoring the long term stability of the company.

Far too many of these over educated jackasses have been destroying American industry for far too long and it has cost our economy dearly in jobs, economic stability, and leadership in technology. Every time a company like HP sends manufacturing to a country like China they cry because of loses incurred through patent infringement because their patents mean nothing in that part of the world. US tax dollars are paying for their research and any advancements they make from building on our ideas doesn't get shared. All this damage is done for a few cents per unit of extra profit so morons like Meg Whitman can get a multimillion dollar salary and another multi million dollar bonus check for damaging the US economy...

As for Crapple they produce nothing more than Yuppie junk that they have to advertise heavily to sell to morons stupidly buying venerable, under performing, over priced crap. Intel processors are behind in technology and are a bad choice for tablets and smartphones so if Crapple had any sense at all they would have gone AMD and Snapdragon when they switched from those worthless Motorola processers. Bad decisions make for a bad product and hiding your OS vulnerabilities instead of making sure your users understand how to protect themselves just makes matters worse.

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