On the one hand, you've got to admire HP CEO Leo Apotheker's brashness in calling out Apple, a company whose market cap is more than three times that of HP, whose revenue is rapidly approximating that of HP, whose brand recognition and image are far stronger than those of HP, and whose "coolness" factor is light years beyond that of HP.
But if vision without execution is hallucination (thank you, Thomas Edison), then brashness without strategic clarity is silliness.
Heck, it's terrific for Apotheker to aspire for HP to burnish its image as a front-edge innovator of marvelous new devices and whiz-bang gadgetry, but is that what HP's customers and prospects and partners want and need to hear about at this time from HP's relatively new and so-far uncommunicative CEO?
We can imagine, at least in part, how this all came about. Apotheker, who not only presides over the world's largest IT company but also likes to present himself as a multilingual man of the world, chose to do an interview last week with the BBC in the midst of the rarified air of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In such a setting, Apotheker might well have decided he had nothing to lose by speaking with wild abandon about his aspirations for HP. After all, this wasn't some gritty tech-industry event where he'd be expected to discuss networking and servers and predictive analytics—this was Davos, and the BBC, and a platform from which HP's new CEO could seek to transcend the muck of business technology and instead appeal to the elusive appetites and whimsy of the congnoscenti.
That is why, I think, he chose not to speak about the very real and very serious competitive challenges HP faces from a resurgent IBM and a high-flying Oracle, both of which have HP very directly in their crosshairs (that's just a metaphor, folks): he wanted to share a broad vision of where he thinks HP should be.
And that is why I also think he made a serious blunder.
Here's the comment that I think will come back to haunt Apotheker, via this excerpt from a news story on hexus.net: