HP is not a bad company. I’ve been using their laptops since 2005. Just bought a new business laptop, HP laptop. Unfortunately, the company is struggling right now.

Being a HP customer for a while now, I do have few things to say. Hopefully, someone at HP will read this. HP is suffering from two major issues: 1. lack of brand personality, and 2. lack of innovation. I’ll tackle each separately and at the end bring them back together.

1. Lack of brand personality

When was the last time you associated HP with a feeling? Besides frustration with their customer support. When I bought my last laptop two weeks ago I felt nothing. I thought to myself, “Great price!” If your brand is solely judged around your low pricing, then you won’t last long. Look at Apple, its laptops are way overpriced. But people wait in lines and buy them. Look at HP, heading for another tough quarter.

Léo Apotheker, HP’s CEO, is probably a good manager; but a great leader? Not so much. Just like 99% of other CEOs, he manages HP without leading it. Why does it take a negative news article for me to hear about him since he took office? Really, CEOs need to come out of their  cocoon. Come on, you’re humans not just some robots without any feelings or emotions. News flash: you have a personality.

Apotheker might be funny, he might be  adventurous, he might be a health freak, or he might be World of Warcraft geek. Why doesn’t his personality reflect in HP’s brand? I don’t think he’s dead inside, is he?

People love connecting with people. They don’t like connecting with companies, companies are dead. But, if you infuse your personality into your company you will give it life. It’s not that hard, you just need to quit letting marketing and PR department dictate your brand personality. Did you see that HP video about WiFi mouse? It’s horrible. Where’s human touch? Where’s personality in that?

HP needs a leader, not a manager. A leader would go straight to his investors and tell them that the next quarter will be tough, but reassure them that upcoming projects will pop company back in it’s financial spot. It’s hard to do though with HP, there’s lack of innovation.

2. Lack of innovation

OK, HP just reinveted the mouse by implementing WiFi connectivity, hence increasing battery life to nine months. Awesome! Can my laptop battery do that? I’m lucky to get 3 hours out of it, and I hate extended batteries. So bulky.

HP is not an innovation leader in the industry, its a follower. Not a very good one at that either. When was the last time HP introduced a laptop (or PC) so revolutionary that people lined up outside BestBuy to get it? It makes laptops, whoop ti doo. There’s nothing original about them, there’ nothing interesting about them, there’s this sleek shiny casing they think is really cool. It looks like it was shoe shined. Disgusting.

HP tries really hard to innovate in design department, but it fails due to one concept: simplicity. If HP went back to the basics: simplicity and minimalism, it would rock! My new laptop, G series, was chosen (other than price and features) for it’s clean, simple look. See for yourself.

I looked over HP’s upcoming tablet with webOS. You might as well call it iPad with iOS. Where’s the innovation? It’s not that hard to innovate, just stop reverse engineering your competition and think!

HP has some good printers, that’s one product line they were able to be successful in. But one product won’t keep giant company afloat.

Tips for the road

Lack of brand personality and innovation are two major issues keeping HP down. I really don’t want to get into HP’s lack of inbound marketing strategy here. That’s for another post. In the meantime, few tips that will help HP come back up (but it really applies to anyone).

  1. CEO (and the rest of C-suite) should start blogging and get on social media. Get your hands dirty, you get paid enough to do that.
  2. C-suite spends one day a month in their call center, talking and helping customers.
  3. Twitter account needs to be less  narcissistic. Every other tweet has HP in it, come on!
  4. Crowdsource a laptop/PC design, or whatever product you might offer.
  5. Go back to your drawing board on tablet design. Don’t stop until it looks nothing like iPad (or other tablets). Make your product unique, not a disposable copy. Unless you’re selling your products at dollar store. Unique + useful = higher value!
  6. If you’re afraid of doing something, do it!
  7. Why not do  town hall  meetings with your customers? Face to face, not a pop up survey that we will most  certainly close.
  8. Make your website simple, friendly to navigate, and you don’t need to put everything on one page.
  9. Ask a 4-year-old what makes him or her happy. Then build your product around it. No limitations, it’s up to you to interpret it.
  10. Actually do it! Don’t just read it. Commit to at least one tip and go through with it.

Though I focused on HP in this post, it really does apply to any business. Maybe someone at HP will read it and a light bulb will go off in their head. Probably not. But, hopefully, you will benefit from these tips. Just remember, be yourself and let it be part of how you do business.

What do you like about HP? What do you hate about HP? Share in the comments section below! Thanks.

  • Kapoist1

    Great article. HP’s also needs to market their SaaS solutions. Most people only associate HP with laptops and printers

    • http://viktorsblog.com/ Viktor Nagornyy

      Thanks for commenting. I’ve heard not too long ago, that HP was considering leaving personal computer market to pursue their SaaS solutions more and cater to the businesses. Not sure if that will happen or not, we will have to see.

  • http://www.bimos.be Alexandru Ion

    I looked over the article as I was trying to advice one of my clients about the best brand to buy now. HP is not really at the top for a long time, since Pavilion series came out. I did buy it for my wife thought it looked slick shoe shine as you said…I am a computer repair guy with my own company. The first time I wanted to do a maintenance check on that computer I could not hold the F word. As a computer guy I open a lot of laptops for repairs. When I opened the HP Pavilion dv6000 I said to my self – WHAT A MESS! A MESS asking for trouble! The laptop is made for 1 year maximum!!! Collect dust, overheat, oxidation accumulation, screen cable placed in the danger zone, you name it….unfortunately today’s pavilion design NEVER improved! The business series is ok i guess but the general feeling about a brand comes from the masses, and the masses bring to my shop Pavilion not the NC series made with Compaq :(

    A pity really….

    • Viktor

      Hey Alexandru,
      Thanks for commenting. Yes, I agree. They are not built to last because they have to keep selling new versions. One would wish for a laptop to be as durable and as long lasting as the good old fridges from back in the day. The white ones with metal doors that you could never close tight enough and you could never scrape the ice clean enough, you had your own little north pole inside it. BUT, they worked just fine for 20-30 years.

      One would wish that with such advance technology that we have right now they could create a better cooling system than a freaking fan. Mine always overheat and get hot to the point of burning me if I hold it for couple of seconds.

      They keep making them slimmer and sleeker, but why can’t they make them cooler (cold)? Beats me. I had an old laptop I had to use while my new laptop was in repair (irony), it had a major overheating problem to the point that I had to use couple of ice packs underneath it, and switch them out for it to work. DYI all the way!

      Thanks,
      Viktor

      • http://www.gemini-it-uk.com Mike Whelan

        You are right, HP have got too big and cumbersome. Their laptop build quality regardless of target market is poor. Toshiba knock spots off them. Look at their range and compare. Service could never be any worse

        • Viktor

          Thanks for commenting Mike. I agree, HP went way off course from their early days in the industry. I heard rumors they’re thinking about quitting personal computer market and focus on their commercial/business products and services. But they need to realize their crappy service and product quality will hurt them their as much, if not more, as in personal computers market. One unsatisfied consumer is one just one computer, but one unsatisfied business customer mean their entire organization can switch to competitor (anywhere from dozens to thousands of products).

          They need to rethink their service and product quality culture, including business culture – which is what trickles down from the top management down to all employees like rain drops seeping through soil.

          Funny story. I was at a conference back in 2011 and at an evening party I talked to people about HP and their failure, I said that they will be going through bankruptcy in the next year or two. Next day was when the news broke about HP hiring bankruptcy lawyers to review the possibility.

          Cheers,
          Viktor

  • http://www.bimos.be Alexandru Ion

    I looked over the article as I was trying to advice one of my clients about the best brand to buy now. HP is not really at the top for a long time, since Pavilion series came out. I did buy it for my wife thought it looked slick shoe shine as you said…I am a computer repair guy with my own company. The first time I wanted to do a maintenance check on that computer I could not hold the F word. As a computer guy I open a lot of laptops for repairs. When I opened the HP Pavilion dv6000 I said to my self – WHAT A MESS! A MESS asking for trouble! The laptop is made for 1 year maximum!!! Collect dust, overheat, oxidation accumulation, screen cable placed in the danger zone, you name it….unfortunately today’s pavilion design NEVER improved! The business series is ok i guess but the general feeling about a brand comes from the masses, and the masses bring to my shop Pavilion not the NC series made with Compaq :(

    A pity really….

    • Viktor

      Hey Alexandru,
      Thanks for commenting. Yes, I agree. They are not built to last because they have to keep selling new versions. One would wish for a laptop to be as durable and as long lasting as the good old fridges from back in the day. The white ones with metal doors that you could never close tight enough and you could never scrape the ice clean enough, you had your own little north pole inside it. BUT, they worked just fine for 20-30 years.

      One would wish that with such advance technology that we have right now they could create a better cooling system than a freaking fan. Mine always overheat and get hot to the point of burning me if I hold it for couple of seconds.

      They keep making them slimmer and sleeker, but why can’t they make them cooler (cold)? Beats me. I had an old laptop I had to use while my new laptop was in repair (irony), it had a major overheating problem to the point that I had to use couple of ice packs underneath it, and switch them out for it to work. DYI all the way!

      Thanks,
      Viktor

  • http://www.squidoo.com/hp-q1997a-ait1-heavy-duty-media-cartridge Adam

    A great article indeed. I am also using HP products for last 4 years like LAptop and Printer. My current machine is HP probook 4530s, all i want to say is that HP need to put more quality in their product material.

    • Viktor

      Thanks for commenting Adam. Yes, one would hope they would improve their product quality.

  • Viktor

    Thanks for commenting Mike. I agree, HP went way off course from their early days in the industry. I heard rumors they’re thinking about quitting personal computer market and focus on their commercial/business products and services. But they need to realize their crappy service and product quality will hurt them their as much, if not more, as in personal computers market. One unsatisfied consumer is one just one computer, but one unsatisfied business customer mean their entire organization can switch to competitor (anywhere from dozens to thousands of products).

    They need to rethink their service and product quality culture, including business culture – which is what trickles down from the top management down to all employees like rain drops seeping through soil.

    Funny story. I was at a conference back in 2011 and at an evening party I talked to people about HP and their failure, I said that they will be going through bankruptcy in the next year or two. Next day was when the news broke about HP hiring bankruptcy lawyers to review the possibility.

    Cheers,
    Viktor