It's a rare event when IBM's leader makes a point of commenting on Big Blue's top competitor. But at a Wall Street Journal-sponsored event this week, Sam Palmisano identified the true cost of driving innovation with company purchases, rather than engineering. Deals like the mad bidding war for 3PAR are going to cost HP's customers in the longer term, he said in a Journal story.
Some of this is jousting between competitors, of course. Palmisano, whose company is just behind HP in total sales -- after shedding its PC business to Lenovo -- said selling PCs is so yesterday.
Those might be harsh words for anybody who wants to wander into a Best Buy or a Walmart or an Office Depot to scoop up the latest HP laptop. But by trying to be everything to every kind of computer customer, HP is risking becoming me-too at everything it sells by the billions. You can ask JC Penney or Sears how that "we sell it all to you" business model is working. A big company can always be outmaneuvered by innovation, or even the addition of invention to a just-smaller rival.
And you can ask the HP 3000 users what it means when a product's revenues drop off because sales have declined on the loss of innovation funding. You need to invent for durable growth -- or experience what happens in the barren aisles of Sears.