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February 7, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

By William Fellows

Is anyone going to help Nick Earle, marketing director of Hewlett-Packard Co’s Enterprise Computing Solutions Organization? Last week he seemed to be leading a one-man crusade to spread the news of a makeover of HP’s internet vision and image. Shouldn’t they all be shouting from the rafters? Speaking to Wall Street early in the week and later at NationsBanc Montgomery Technology conference, Earle revealed HP’s plan to transform its internet brand by spending $100m-plus on a new ad campaign: HP – The Internet Company, perhaps? It’s also hired Allison Johnson, who helped develop IBM’s successful ecommerce campaign. Earle said HP is now mobilized around an Internet Chapter 2 vision – in which the internet is transformed from do-it-yourself to do-it-for- me, – aiming to deliver systems that offer consumers more services from a single point. He said HP will announce a series of products and alliances over the next several months geared towards online business. And it is developing software that will allow companies to build their own enterprise portals. Computergram readers will already be familiar with the company’s Info Utility strategy that we revealed last October (CI No 3,508), together with some of the new ‘utility computing’ products it is readying. Wall Street and the trade press were also full of reports that a new internet division had been created. We couldn’t find one, though Earle’s Enterprise Computing Solutions Organization, to which some reports referred to, has been up and running since late last year (CI No 3,552). Nevertheless there are persistent rumors that there is a reorganization in the works for the computer systems operations. HP, which has called McKinsey & Co in to offer advice on how it can turn around its lackluster image, has often toyed with a dedicated internet division. In 1996 it thought that it didn’t have to be a net inventor to be a net supplier but then went ahead and created an internet division in Chelmsford, Massachusetts which it subsequently closed in 1997 (CI No 3,289). What’s apparent is that HP’s internet strategy remains as clear as mud at the moment. It once told us it had a clear strategy in place during the old client/server days, but then Sun came along with Java and Jini and took away all the limelight. Wall Street was apparently as confused as the rest of us. DLJ and Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock on the back of HP’s pep talk last week. PaineWeber downgraded it.

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