HP CEO Hurd: why HP stopped selling Apple’s iPod

“Before he was named Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive on Mar. 30, almost no one other than investors in NCR Corp. knew the name Mark Hurd. While he had helped that once-moribund computer maker become a Wall Street high-flier, Hurd didn’t even make most observers’ dark-horse list of possible successors to Carly Fiorina, who was ousted in February. After all, NCR (NCR ) is roughly 1/16th the size of HP (HPQ ), and Hurd had never run a business aimed at consumers — the segment that makes up much of HP’s growth and profit. Hurd, 48, presents a striking contrast to Fiorina, the charismatic super-saleswoman lured from Lucent Technologies (LU ) in 1999 to inject some pizzazz back into HP,” BusinessWeek reports. “Hurd reflected on his new job, management philosophy, and plans for HP in two interviews with BusinessWeek Computer Editor Peter Burrows.”

Why did you decide to stop selling Apple’s iPod?
There are a lot of bets we can make, but we want to make those bets in markets that are exciting, have growth, are worth dominating — make that “leading,” the lawyers don’t like “dominating” — and in which, by the way, we can lead. So think about putting our logo on the iPod. Is the market worth leading? Maybe it is. But can we lead it, with no or very little technology differentiation? Doubtful. You have to go into places where you can lead.

Full article here.
Obviously, Hurd has a brain; there’s a striking contrast for you. Hurd understands that you can’t go around saying “invent” and then slapping your logo onto Apple’s iPod and reselling it. Hurd probably also understand that there are many other markets where HP has a better chance of competing right now than in the music player market dominated by Apple (contrary to HP’s lawyers, where appropriate, we like to use all forms of the word “dominate” for the sake of accuracy).

Related articles:
Hewlett-Packard ousts CEO Carly Fiorina, and what was with that ‘Apple iPod by HP’ deal anyway? – February 09, 2005


  1. So does Hurd think his HP and Compaq PCs show any chance of “leading” given that Dell continues to grow its lead? Is there any differentiation in HP PCs from any other Windows PC so that I should buy an HP/Compaq? So should we expect HP to be exiting the PC market sometime soon?

  2. I think HP would be wise to offer more iPod compatable accessories and add-ons for iPods. They could make a mint by offering an HP machine with a top mount iPod dock. Hell, their new Media Center PC has a bay in the front for a slide in USB removable Hard Drive, why not for the iPod? You can’t beat em, but you can cash in on the add-ons.

  3. hurd might be smart, but i hope he knows that sometimes you sell things because it helps you to sell other things. you know, like the halo effect. so mp3 players and printers and digital cameras might help you to sell computers if you could show smooth integration across the products.

    also, maybe hp should be exiting the digicam market too. sony and canon always had the lead but kodak came from nowhere and whupped them there.

  4. The biggest problem HP, and Dell, Gateway, etc., have is that they are hardware manufacturers, with little or no control over the operation of the hardware and so have little chance of ‘leading.’ For HP to put iTunes on their machines makes a little operational differentiation, but until they have a different operating system they can’t lead.

  5. Since when did HP “invent” Windows that they put on all there personaly computers. There seems to be some Microsoft company claiming it’s their program. HP should sue them, since they “invent” everything.

  6. Hurd is sounding a great deal like GE’s Welch. Welch wanted nothing to do with industries/markets that GE couldn’t become the leader of. He had some good economic conditions help, but his philosophy was sound and the execution was very good.

    I think Jobs thinks in much the same way. Mac users have clamored for a Mac PDA and other products that Jobs’ has said no to. Jobs wants markets that Apple products can dominate, and he won’t introduce until the technology (and the product) exists) that will make it possible. He isn’t interested in being first.

    This is contrary to Gates’ philosophy, which is to be first then fix it over time, and use your OS dominance to establish the new product. IE is a good case in point. Digital music proved to be a market Gates knew nothing about. His philosophy failed big time, and he got clobbered.

    MDN MW = Went, as in, “Billie, the market went thataway”.

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