HP's chief exec dismisses any 'me too' attitude

CEO Mark Hurd says his company will focus more closely on three areas: servers, storage and management software.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
3 min read
ORLANDO, Fla.--Hewlett-Packard's chief executive says his game plan for the company is simple: Stick to the basics.

Mark Hurd, who was appointed as CEO in March less than two months after the ouster of Carly Fiorina, said Tuesday that HP will get back to building core technology and improving its relationships with customers.

Hurd spoke Tuesday in a keynote address at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo conference here.

HP will focus more closely on three areas: Servers, storage and management software. "You will see us double down on those businesses," Hurd said.

Mark Hurd

He also reiterated that HP has no plans to exit either the PC or printer businesses. "If there is anything I didn't want to continue in, I wouldn't bring it up here. But thanks for your concern," Hurd said, joking with Gartner analysts who questioned the CEO during a 45-minute discussion.

Hurd, who spent 25 years at NCR before joining HP, took the opportunity to distance himself from some of strategies put in place by Fiorina, such as a deal that HP made with Apple Computer to resell iPod digital audio players.

"The way I look at it, for instance, the iPod was not an interesting, eh, excursion: Taking a product and stamping our logo on it and shipping it to the market isn't good for us, including in some cases taping $10 bills to them. That didn't make sense," he said.

HP stopped selling iPods over the summer.

Hurd was hired to strengthen HP's operations and has focused on improving the company's financial performance through layoffs and a realignment of its sales team.

"Storage is better for HP than iPods. We are not going to spin off printers, or get rid of PCs, but we are constantly looking to adjust," he said.

As for Itanium-based servers, Hurd said that HP remains committed. "If you buy Itanium, you have my commitment for support. We're committed. Intel is committed," he said.

HP will also work to improve its relationship with customers. "We will ship 50 million printers, 30 million PCs, a couple of million servers. We are going to try to do a better job of serving that customer base," Hurd said.

As for competitors, Hurd was asked how to avoid making HP seem like a "me too" company in relation to IBM and Dell.

"I don't know about those 'me too' comments. Those are mostly clever quips from press people, but that's not reality. I don't know who we would be 'me too' to. We?re a better company in some core areas than those other companies. Technology will be the differentiation. We are a tech company, and we will stay focused on that," he said.

On Monday, market researchers said HP increased its PC shipments at a slightly faster pace than rival Dell, stemming--at least for now--what had become a widening gap between No. 1 Dell and No. 2 HP.

Michael Dell, founder and chairman of Dell, is expected to speak Thursday at Gartner's conference.

Later on Tuesday, Hurd is slated to speak at HP's Technology Forum 2005, a conference also taking place this week in Orlando. The HP conference was originally scheduled for last month in New Orleans, but was rescheduled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the severe flood damage in that city.