Posts Tagged ‘HP

The ethics guide for HP uses the headline test to determine if a business decision is ethical:

The Headline Test is a simple but powerful tool designed to make sure we appropriately consider the soundness and impact of our business decisions. It is named after one of the tools most commonly used by executives: “Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story.” (Source: SBC, page 8 )

According to the headline of this blog post, HP’s decision to mislead customers for months about the availability of Touchpads at firestorm prices is unethical.
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Today HP announced that they would make one more batch of Touchpads:

We have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand.

While my inner-optimist would like to believe that HP is making a few more Touchpads because they feel sorry for everyone who really wanted one and didn’t get one, I think it is more likely that HP had other reasons for making another batch of Touchpads:

  1. They have to make more in order to keep a backup supply to use for in-warranty replacements.  HP asserts that all Touchpads come with a 1 year warranty.
  2. By making a few more, they can continue to reap an increased level of press coverage.  HP has never seen so much press coverage until they announced the discontinuance of the Touchpad.
  3. They have contracts with customers, channels, and partners to provide a certain number of Touchpads, and they are making more to fulfill their legal requirements to those contracts.
  4. They fear a public relations backlash, possibly even legal consequences, if they don’t provide any more after using phrases like, “Coming Soon,” “Temporarily out of stock,” and “When it becomes available again.”
  5. In an effort to license or sell webOS to other device manufacturers, HP wanted a supply of Touchpads to provide to developers or engineers.

Perhaps the generalization of these speculations is this: The fire sale happened so quickly that HP ran flat out of inventory before they realized that they needed a few more.

HP is promising to sell more of their discontinued Touchpads at $100 and $150, depending on the model.  Since demand for these discounted devices is high, HP is likely to sell out no matter how many they make available.  So this is no longer about trying to make as much money as possible by selling as many devices as possible–it is now about generating a good relationship with their customers and potential customers.

There is one underlying principle which HP needs to remember: keep it fair.  To that end, here are four things HP can do to keep it fair:

  1. Limit the number of devices sold per customer.  Someone who just wanted one to use at home will feel cheated if someone else bought many just to sell on eBay for a profit.
  2. Explain the rules.  Let people know before hand what is going to happen.  If there is a limit per customer, say that before hand.  If you are going to wait until Touchpads are actually on sale again before sending out notification emails, say that before hand. If you aren’t going to allow coupons to be used, say that before hand.  If you expect your servers to get hammered to death such that only a few frequent refreshers will get through, say that before hand.
  3. Knowing something isn’t going to happen is almost as important as knowing something will happen.  Knowing that Touchpads aren’t going to be sold, or knowing that Touchpads aren’t going to be shipped to any stores is better information than nothing.
  4. Share information with everyone.  If you are shipping Touchpads to Best Buy, tell the whole world, so that more people than just the Best Buy employees will have a chance to get one.  If you know a general number of Touchpads that will be sold, post it on the main Touchpad FAQ, so that more people than just Twitter users get the full picture.  (Or at least tell everyone who to follow on Twitter).

Recently, the new CEO of HP, Leo Apotheker, told the BBC, “I hope one day people will say ‘this is as cool as HP’, not ‘as cool as Apple’.” While I know nothing of Apotheker’s plans to be cool, I suspect he is focused on making cool products, while not understanding the source of that cool.

The style of any product line comes from the culture of the people designing the product. Apple has a culture that cultivates “cool,” while HP does not. HP’s culture is more scientific, focuses on doing more, and is more conservative. That is why products from Apple are simple and elegant, and products from HP tend to have too many buttons and too much bloat without bravely crossing into cutting edge.

I suspect that Apotheker doesn’t realize that “cool” must permeate through the company as widespread culture, instead of being a goal in product design. For example, I’ve seen some of my friends receive job offers from Apple that come in a well designed stylish folder with organized papers. My HP offer came as a poorly formatted email.

Once while I was working at HP, there was a contest to give a component board a cool “Apple-like” name. They had a few dozen suggestions, but in the end, the only name that was acceptable to the HP culture came in the form of a four letter acronym.

So if Apotheker really wants HP to be cool, he is going to have to start with the very difficult task of changing HP culture.

Way too much to see

Posted in Generalon Apr 1, 2008

At my place of work I now have two 24-inch monitors side by side connected to my Xeon workstation. I have Windows running on one screen, and Kubuntu running in a VM on the other screen.

At times, I’m a little overwhelmed about what to do with all that screen space. I leave my laptop closed so I don’t blow my mind.

My HP Job Offer

Posted in Funnyon Jan 17, 2008

I found this line in my HP job offer which I found to be kind of overwhelming:

You will be working for the TSG ESS BCSD HSTD Staff Department in the Business Critical Server Divis (BCSD) Organization.

That acronym soup is worse than what I found working at Intel. Funny…. um, almost.

I’m moving to Fort Collins, Colorado

Posted in Lifeon Dec 20, 2007

Last week I was interviewing with Hewlett Packard in Fort Collins, Colorado. They were interviewing me for a software developer position to do programming for embedded Linux systems. The trip was incredibly fun, and the interview went well too. The day after I got home, I received a phone call from HP and they extended the job offer to me.

I’ve accepted the offer, which means in January I’ll be moving to Fort Collins, Colorado. I’m very excited about this time of my life and I’m looking forward to all the new adventures which await me.


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