“When Meg Whitman took over as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. a year ago, she got a company-issued laptop,” Ben Worthen reports for The Wall Street Journal. “‘They gave me a brick,’ she said, referring to the device’s weight and chunky appearance.”

“That’s an assessment of H-P’s products that Ms. Whitman is working to change, starting with a new line of personal computers due out in time for the holidays. Meanwhile, she has pledged to defend her company’s standing as the world’s largest PC maker by volume, which it is on the brink of losing to Lenovo Group Ltd.,” Worthen reports. “As part of her plan, Ms. Whitman is counting on better-looking PCs, hoping her company might one day rival Apple Inc. as the industry’s standard bearer for sleek design. ‘I don’t think we kept up with the innovation,’ said the 56-year-old CEO. ‘The whole market has moved to something that is more beautiful.'”

Worthen reports, “H-P has reorganized and nearly doubled the size of its PC design team to 60 people and has opened two new design centers. In January, the company appointed a longtime employee to oversee the design group and is establishing guidelines for the look and feel of future devices… [Whitman] assigned longtime PC executive Stacy Wolff to come up with a common look and feel for all its products. His mission was to craft computers that were instantly recognizable as H-Ps. Mr. Wolff centralized H-P’s design efforts and added new members to his team. Mr. Wolff and his group quickly settled on a standard logo size and location on the company’s PCs and decided to put the on-button and power jack in the same place on all H-P laptops. He also introduced a common color pallet for use across all the company’s product lines, which had sometimes borne competing shades of the same color.”

“‘We’re working on a cleaner, more minimalistic look,’ he said,” Worthen reports. “Even with all the changes, Ms. Whitman says she knows that it could be a few years before consumers recognize an H-P PC when they see one. ‘Apple taught us that design really matters,’ she said. ‘I think we’ve made a lot of progress.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Watch Whitman’s HP.

Sure the stuff looks Apple derivative (HP has appropriated more than their fair share of Jony Ive’s work) and they’re still saddled with the weight OSes not of their own making. Yes, their hardware and software cannot compete with Apple, but it sure can or will soon be able to compete with the likes of Dell et al. It’s rather amazing that it took this long to get someone in there who could recognize that inconsistency of design across a company’s product lines is death.

Bottom line: Not everything she tries will work and the economy is working against her, but overall, Whitman gets it.

Maybe one of these days, HP will even fulfill their marketing slogan and, after decades of malaise, actually begin to invent again.

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HP blatantly copies Apple’s iMac, Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad designs – September 10, 2012
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