I just re-read my own blog a bit, in view of the news this week for HP. May 21, analyzing the second quarter numbers, I opined that HP is screwed in the consumer market -- PCs as well as TouchPads, etc. While hardly new news to anyone (since some pundits have said this for thirty years), it was satisfying to me to read my own prophecies and realize they were pretty accurate.
Today, I'd have to say, "What were they smoking over there?" This company has been out of touch with consumers for so long it is embarrassing. (Again, some longterm observers would say, "Charlie, name me one time they were in touch"). They make Motorola's disaster look like child's play, although they aren't (yet) being compared to Enron or AIG.
But for the world's largest revenue high-tech company on the globe, this has got to be viewed as mostly catastrophic. Predictably, the stories this morning go back to Carly's tempestuous acquisition of Compaq, clearly pinning the blame on the Wicked Witch. But it is hard to blame it all on Carly. She's been gone an eternity in Silicon Valley years. Consider -- she was bounced two and a half years before the i-Phone appeared, more than five years before the i-Pad appeared. Think of it this way -- Apple had yet to average 1 million i-PODs per quarter, or i-Macs per quarter -- when Carly was deposed.
It was Marc the Knife (the kindest appellation we've heard in a year for this abusive tyrant who was praised all over Wall Street) who presided over the destruction of R and D (along with ethics, any sense of community involvement, charity, or tragically, the HP Way) that paved the way for this denouement of an icon.
Apple did do R and D, with acute market sensitivity, and boosted i-POD sales by ten times in the next two years, boosted their PC/laptop sales by four times in the next five years (into a "dead, mature market"), and without the i-Phone and the i-Pad built a dynamic exciting company compared to the cost-cutting enterprise-focused Palo Alto progenitor of Silicon Valley.
And now, based on four exciting consumer-facing product lines (only), Apple has surpassed IBM in total revenues, and is about to pass HP. The only saving grace for HP in terms of 'standing tall' is to note that 'iconic' Intel, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP have all stagnated worse than HP, while other iconic companies, notably Sun and Motorola, have disappeared.
Unfortunately, American companies, by and large, are being managed (and lauded) by folk who resemble the leadership that has just failed HP. Check the statistics for DuPont, Merck, Kodak, Boeing, John Deere, General Motors, AT&T and Verizon, or your favorite retailer, and it paints a sorry picture for what the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business School types admire.