COMDEX: CEO Fiorina touts a "reinvented" HP

Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Carly Fiorina took the Comdex keynote stage this week to to spell out the key elements of success in the Internet economy and unveil a new branding campaign for HP intended to 'reinvent' the company.

Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Carly Fiorina took the Comdex keynote stage this week to to spell out the key elements of success in the Internet economy and unveil a new branding campaign for HP intended to "reinvent" the company.

CEO at HP for just over three months, Fiorina spoke with confidence and poise on HP's vision for the future of the Internet, noting that the Web "has not lived up to its hype."

"Either the Internet remains elite, the purview of the technology geeks, or the Net becomes pervasive, intimate, warm, friendly, personal, and useful," Fiorina said. "The challenge is not about technology, it is about culture."

The three tenets of that new Internet culture, as HP officials see it, include radical ideas, inventiveness, and a synthesis of brick-and-mortar beliefs and dot-com aggressiveness. "To be really successful, companies need to combine the best of the old and new," Fiorina said.

HP itself has been one of the companies that many industry observers criticized for not capitalizing on the opportunity of the Web early enough, unable to change its bulky organization to take advantage of changing business practices. Fiorina clearly intends to change that reputation.

Fiorina highlighted several innovations that HP has been responsible for recently, citing the company's e-speak technology JetSend, and the CHAI software. Bringing the Internet to all kinds of devices, big and small, was a direction that Fiorina keyed on in the presentation.

In an example of what HP feels will be the Internet's true value, Fiorina introduced attendees to HP's Cool Town, a fictional community in which all electronic devices are Internet-enabled. In this world, an alarm clock could receive traffic updates from the Internet in real time, and automatically give its owner an extra half hour of sleep if necessary. The crowd roared at the thought of such a service.

In addition, Fiorina positioned HP as a company at the convergence point of services, appliances, and infrastructure, the three key vectors of the Internet economy. In that spirit, HP unveiled a new branding campaign in which they will use the name Hewlett-Packard" less, and focus in on simply "HP." The campaign features several photographs of the original garage in Palo Alto that David Packard and Bill Hewlett began the company.

"You may think it presumptuous for me to talk of radical ideas, but this is a company founded of radical ideas, a company of inventors," Fiorina said. "You can expect to work with a reinvented HP, a fundamentally transformed company."

Hewlett Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif., is at http://www.hp.com.

(Dan Briody is an InfoWorld editor at large based in New York.)

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