updated 08:35 pm EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
HP drops strategy head in first big shakeup
HP conducted the first big corporate shakeup since it fired Leo Apotheker on Thursday after it said its chief strategy and technology officer Shane Robison would retire as of November 1. While characterized as a graceful exit, it said Robison wouldn't be replaced. The move was to bring "strategy, research and development" more directly into HP, pointing to the restructuring as the primary incentive.
Robison came in through the Compaq merger and helped both in bringing in Compaq as well as heavyweights such as 3Com and EDS.
The shuffle, whether voluntary or not, is the first since former eBay CEO Meg Whitman took over the top spot at HP and hints at a different, more direct strategy. Whitman has sped up the fate of HP's PC business and effectively acknowledged that Apotheker was putting the PCs in danger by casting doubt on whether or not the division would still be with HP or even remain at all.
HP has likewise been accused of not understanding mobile and not fully supporting the former Palm team before it decided to end webOS hardware. The Palm group was deliberately kept outside of HP's offices to avoid being overwhelmed by its bureaucracy, but the team also got reportedly got little help other than finances and marketing. Owners of the HP TouchPad not only complained that Apotheker orphaned the tablet after just six weeks on shelves but that the design wasn't any more advanced than what Palm would have done on its own.
HP has historically been conservative and, while more successful, has usually missed trends set by once-smaller companies like Apple or Voodoo PC, the latter of which it bought to get into high-end home computers.