Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HP Innovation going forward

HP was always about 'game-changers' but it also was always about 'platform evolution'

The 4th try on a digital voltmeter FINALLY succeeded against the ten leaders who beat HP to that biz when HP owned the analog voltmeter business.  HP did it with the first integrated circuit ever shipped in a product (a dual-diode, Whew!), and then followed that breakthrough with the idea of tying a data logger (e.g. computer) to the DVM since it was too fast for technicians to write the numbers.  That gave rise to the ruggedized HP 2116 as 'an instrument controller' and that in turn gave rise to the HP 9100A, the first 'personal computer' with transcendental functions, just what you need on your desk at home.  And soon the derivatives of the HP 9100 outsold the DVMs they were built for (in the same remote division by the way) by a factor of five, and then ten, and then twenty.  They built a 'system platform' in other words, evolving all along the way.

Ink for InkJets, way too much of the profit for many years now, came about because HP learned a lot more about ink from its gallium arsenide processing problems than from its printer divisions.  Synergy around the loop rather than political infighting that seems to characterize groups mostly today.

But I digress.  The point is that corporate innovation is different by kind than inspired genius in a corner

There was a great NY Times op-ed piece a few years back by Dick Blass, a Microsoft VP R and D from 1997 through 2004 where he was asked about the iPad vs. the Kindle since he lived in Seattle.  He said: "the much more important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future, whether it’s tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular Web services like Facebook and Twitter."

We could echo his words, and substitute HP for Microsoft easily enough, right?  And the tragedy right now, in front of us from the guys and gals at Apple, is that they just showed Meg's team up badly, one more time, given her bleat: "while we're intent on having a smart phone, we haven't yet figured out how to do that without being a 'me-too' player" 


1 comment:

Walter Underwood said...

Dick Blass is seriously deluded if he thinks that Microsoft has ever "brought us the future".

At their best, Microsfot has brought a hard-to-use, somewhat broken version of kinda recent developments.

In 1995, I was using a cross-platform calendar product superior to today's Microsoft Exchange. And it does not take a genius to think up obvious improvements, like offering participants a choice of two or three meeting times.