By all accounts, HP has had a rough year. A series of questionable business moves have left the company struggling to remain profitable. In an effort to set things right, HP CEO Meg Whitman has taken several steps to bring the company back onto firmer ground. As part of that, HP announced yesterday that they were beginning a massive reorganization of the company.
HP also held a shareholder meeting yesterday, and according to a report from AppleInsider, Whitman found herself faced with several tough questions about what HP was doing to duplicate the success of its rival in both the computer and mobile markets, Apple. One question focused on HP's ability to innovate and produce "disruptive technology," something Apple has made a habit of doing in recent years. Whitman replied by acknowledging that HP has stumbled in this area in recent years and has focused more heavily on incremental updates to existing product lines rather than on more innovative projects.
Another question dealt with HP's presence in the retail space, pointing out that servicing HP products - particularly printers - can be extremely difficult, as replacement parts have to come from HP facilities that may be far away from where customers are located. The shareholder suggested that HP learn from Apple's retail store model as a means of interacting with customers more directly. Whitman replied that HP does currently have retail locations in Brazil, and that the company was looking at how such stores might fare economically in the U.S.
The third investor noted a statement by Steve Jobs some years previously that Apple was far ahead of its competition in many areas, especially mobile, and asked whether HP was being innovative enough in light of the fact that Apple has such a significant lead over HP in so many ways. Whitman applauded Apple's success, calling it "one of the great business renaissance stories of our generation," but also noted that HP is at or near the top of every business in which the company competes, and stressed that HP remained committed to continued innovation.