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HP Forum Archive 08

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"Losing the HP Way"
Message #1 Posted by Hans Brueggemann on 23 Mar 2002, 12:33 p.m.

what do you think?

cheers, hans

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #2 Posted by Frank Glitz on 23 Mar 2002, 4:48 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Hans Brueggemann

Well, I think HP lost it's way when they began to manufacture IBM-compatible PCs...

Regards, Frank

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #3 Posted by Håkan Thörngren on 24 Mar 2002, 4:07 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Frank Glitz

I could not agree more. HP lost its way when they stopped innovating and started imitating others by making PC clones. Later they started imitating its competitors in the calculator market by ditching RPN and moving to AOS.

I liked HP beacuse they made things others didn't. They made good stuff that was different, and usually of great quality as well. It was expensive, but you got what you paid for.

HP have come a far way from what they used to be. The only small hope I have left for them is that the reason why they stopped developing the hp48/hp49 line, was that they maybe, just maybe, finally would realize that what people want is a simple RPN calculator, a business machine and something like the HP41/HP42 (with I/O capability, thank you very much) to choose from.

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #4 Posted by Frank Glitz on 25 Mar 2002, 10:08 a.m.,
in response to message #3 by Håkan Thörngren

That's exactly what I mean. The brand "HP" was a synonym for quality tech stuff quite a long time - measurement tools, RF equipment, med tech, _calculators_ and even the legendary laserjet printers. The company HP was kind of paradigmatic for the American innovative spirit. Now it's just one in a - long - row; though, a big one (yet).

When they started "cloning", they traded in innovation for "shareholder value", were no longer focusing on "quality made to last" but on the fast - and I've got to admit sometimes short-term profit-making - innovation in the PC and PC-server market, or let's say IT-market in general.

IMHO it would have been better for HP to keep centered on what they did best over the years: the making of high-quality, professional "not-for-everyone"-products: these will _always_ be appreciated by customers in search of accuracy. HP may not have grown that large, but the spirit wouldn't have been lost. And chances to stumble and fall would be much less...

But, heck, I'm too romantic...

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #5 Posted by Juan J on 25 Mar 2002, 6:08 p.m.,
in response to message #4 by Frank Glitz

I'm heck of a romantic too. I think we all loved 9and still love) that not-for-everyone aura that surrounded HP products.

One always knew that if it was HP it was "not for wimps," as a friend of mine likes to say. Maybe expensive but high-quality and very flexible. We all love our little machines because of that, not to mention multimeters, signal generators and gas chromatographs.

After going thru the arguments of both sides about the merger, it is sad to see that a clever strategy helped Fiorina tip the balance to her side, at the expense of a reputation (and prestige) that took so much to build. And it also sad to see how Walter Hewlett was so rudely dismissed when he raised his voice against it. The "old" HP knew better than that, I think.

Companies are much more than stock prices. Why not reamaining a small but respectable company producing quality? Why the intention of forcing the entry into a cutthroat market that has little if any to do with quality, real needs filled and lasting values?

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #6 Posted by Frank Glitz on 26 Mar 2002, 8:03 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Juan J

I'm pretty sure no one decisive at HP will reads these threads and even if someone does, these are only a few inconsiderable voices of obscure HP calculator freaks...

But HPs XEQutives should consider scientists, engineers or inventors (a hell of a lot of quality-oriented customers) when making decisions on the future of their business. Most of them don't need run of the mill PCs. They are looking for high quality, precise and reliable instruments; the opposite of what a PC stands for...

OK, I'm annoyed with that more than enough...

Cheerio! Frank

Re: "Losing the HP Way"
Message #7 Posted by Ellis Easley on 26 Mar 2002, 10:17 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Frank Glitz

In the article you pointed to regarding 9100 docs - - the interview with Barney Oliver - there is the following passage [KC is Kip Crosby who wrote for the newsletter. The discussion leading to this point concerned the successful 9000 series workstations that had to be developed "under the radar" of company management]:

"KC: _But there was another reason for some hesitation as regarded computer development. A part of management was very dedicated to continued computer development; another part of management saw that much more could be done with calculators; and a third part was committed to refining and upgrading instrumentation, so that you were almost involving three companies in a philosophical sense. That may have created a reluctance to put more than a certain number of eggs in any one basket._"

"Oliver: I'm not as conscious of that as I was of our trying to do things.... That leads to an issue which I'll try to illustrate. It has been traditional, in development work at HP, that we try to make a contribution in every instrument we bring out. We're not content to put a new face on something; we really want it to perform better in the sense of advancing some specs by significant amounts, or by making a good product more cheaply, whatever, but there must be a contribution. And so when we got into the PC market, for example, we wanted to make a contribution -- we used the paradigm of pushing the spec, but in that market it was less appropriate. There were all kinds of things on those machines that the customer didn't understand, didn't know about, or didn't use, which therefore just sat there and were wasted. Finally we tumbled to the realization that in a PC, what you wanted is not contribution in that sense but compatibility, and the contribution is going to come about through more efficient internal design, or enhancements to the operating system or something like that, or maybe it doesn't have anything, just reliability, and a good price, and then you're in better shape to compute because the software is coming out of Microsoft and everybody else, so we have done better with that philosophy. But we had to have good engines first."

I'm not trying to put Tandy on a par with HP, but when Tandy started building IBM compatibles, they also wanted to add enhancements. The Tandy 1000 was more compact that an IBM PC and had better graphics modes, sound, and joystick interface (partly from the IBM PC Jr.) The Tandy 2000 had a 16 bit bus CPU (80186), ran almost twice as fast, came with twice the memory, and had twice the graphics resolution of the IBM PC, and only claimed to be compatible at the BIOS level. But Tandy also came to realize that compatibility was all that mattered. And they went on to have some success with machines like the 4000, their first 386 AT compatible. I thought it was a mark of success when I saw it being used on "The Computer Chronicles" to demonstrate software products - both the show and the developers thought enough of it to put it on the air.

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