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HP on Apple: We're just good friends

Will Hewlett-Packard become Apple Computer's support desk? Probably not, but it's likely a rumor you will hear today, as it was a question posed to Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group, at PC Forum. (PC Forum is owned by CNET Networks.) There are a lot of bloggers here, and mentioning Apple is like tossing out free nickels to weekend gamblers.

Livermore said HP has the capability to provide all of Apple's backend support. "But from Apple's perspective, they'd like to own the relationship with their end-user customers," she said. "It would depend on them to determine what their strategy is. We have a lot of respect for Apple."

On another note, Livermore said that last year, HP obtained about five patents a day on average "and we are going to continue to do that." At the same time, HP will increase its activity with the open-source community, which tends to look down on patents. In a comical moment, an IBM executive directly asked if HP, like IBM, would begin to release "hundreds of patents" to the open-source community. Livermore did not answer. However, the IBM exec failed to point out that Big Blue, in its burst of patent generosity, also obtains thousands of patents a year and earns millions of dollars in royalties.