Mark Hurd Leaves HP (and Other Hot Topics)

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 08-09-2010

Mark Hurd Leaves HP (and Other Hot Topics)

Everybody's talking about Mark Hurd's resignation from his post as CEO of HP. The development comes as the company was in the midst of turning around its enterprise fortunes, and had made a big splash on the mobility front this spring when it announced the acquisition of Palm.

In this period of prolonged economic uncertainty, such vendor developments can have vast ripple effects throughout the enterprise community. Right now, there are more questions than answers about how Hurd's departure will impact the company. The current management team is working overtime to reassure customers that the HP ship will not stray from its course.

While no CIO wants to be known as the executive who linked his organization's IT fortunes to a vendor that goes "kaboom," at the same time corporate turnover at major tech vendors is hardly uncommon. In this case, though, it's the circumstances of Hurd's abrupt departure amid alleged ethics violations could raise red flags for customers.

The HP executive drama overshadows other hot developments that CIOs also need to track, including:

  • BlackBerry Torch and Curve 3G smart phones both hitting the market from Research In Motion this month
  • Android sales figures from oogle that serve as further proof of the success of that smart phone OS
  • iPhone jailbreaking and what it means for enterprise IT
  • iPad mini rumors

Here's a deeper look into the hottest news, and why these developments will directly impact CIO decision-making through 2010.

Mark Hurd's Abrupt Departure from HP

Mark Hurd's departure as CEO of HP on August 6, 2010, was abrupt and left the company - and its customers -- reeling. According to a prepared statement released by HP, Hurd resigned after an investigation found that he violated HP's Standards of Business Conduct.

Interim CEO Cathie Lesjak (HP's CFO) and other executives are working to reassure customers, partners and Wall Street that, despite Hurd's abrupt resignation, the company is stable and on solid footing. They emphasize that the management team currently in place has been key to HP's success over the past five years.

Nonetheless, Hurd's departure leaves a massive void at HP that could directly influence CIO buying decisions going forward. The real question is, what comes next at HP? The company has its share of challenges, according a research report from Ezra Gottheil, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research. The world's top PC vendor is finding new challengers in the likes of Acer and Samsung, particularly among consumers and SMBs. Apple, with its iPhone offerings and iPad, also is a strong competitor, notes Gottheil. In addition, IBM will continue to challenge HP in such areas as R&D and being a provider of IT products and services to the largest enterprises.

In particular, Hurd has given the new CEO the opportunity to continue to grow HP's software business to help it better compete with IBM, Gottheil said. "There is an opportunity to revise the role of HP Software, reshaping the division from its current slow growth to become a driver of revenue and profit growth along the lines of IBM's Software division," he said. "This transformation will be a challenge, as IBM counts on software to add value to its hardware platforms, while HP currently uses its software to drive sales of its hardware--a position that sets up deep discounting in the very profitable software sale."

CIOs are left to ponder whether new CEO run HP as Hurd did, and provide a viable value proposition in the enterprise computing market. And whether the new CEO will focus heavily on enterprise solutions, the way Hurd did. For now, it seems all CIOs can do is keep a watchful eye on HP to determine if the change at the top will work for, or against, enterprise customers.

RIM Announces BlackBerry Torch, Curve 3G

RIM announced a new touchscreen/slider smart phone, the BlackBerry Torch, which will run BlackBerry OS 6 when it goes on sale via AT&T on August 12. It's not the only OS6-ready device hitting the market this month. RIM will also have a BlackBerry Curve 3G world phone on sale from T-Mobile in the U.S. and other carriers worldwide in August. The BlackBerry Curve 9300 is the first to support 3G on GSM-based networks.

All in all, the BlackBerry Torch seems like a solid device and the new Curve is a good move. Although the Torch features both a capacitive touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, BlackBerry OS 6 is still far behind Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS in terms of consumer-grade user-friendliness and application integration.

Granted, BlackBerry remains the leader when it comes to enterprise-grade activation, but these days even business smart phone decisions are being driven increasingly by devices that capture the hearts and minds of consumers. If BlackBerry Torch fails to do this, it's possible that RIM is going to experience some trouble in the mobile market. One other issue with the Torch: it's only available to AT&T customers.

For enterprises that need the level of policy management and security available from the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the Torch and OS6 may be a viable option - together they offer a new level of user-profile granularity that should please IT. That is, of course, assuming your enterprise can accommodate the Torch's single-carrier availability. However, there are many smart phone options on the market right now with massive consumer appeal, so CIOs will want to see how users react to the device before making any major purchasing decisions.

200,000 Droids Activated Today

Speaking to reporters in California in early August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that 200,000 Android-based devices are being activated each day. The news further underscores Google's unexpected (but meteoric) rise in the mobile market. Back in May, Google was seeing activations of only 65,000 units each day.

As with Apple's iOS, the Android mobile operating system still has a long way to go before it comes close to delivering the enterprise-class experience of the BlackBerry OS. Still, Google has done a much better job of appealing to corporate users with Android 2.2 than it has in previous iterations of its smart phone OS. Plus, with the Android-based Cisco Cius tablet due later this year, it may be time for CIOs to think seriously about Android as a staple in the enterprise.

iPhone Jailbreaking Takes Off

After the FCC decided that jailbreaking smart phones is legal, a slew of hacker sites have cropped up providing owners with solutions they need to free their iPhone from Apple's control. For CIOs, this could mean trouble. If your employees have iPhones, beware that jailbreaking can cause all kinds of security problems. Most security experts say that up to 80 percent of the iPhone's security safeguards are lost  when a user jailbreaks the device. Considering how much data your employees undoubtedly carry around on their smart phones each day, this statistic alone may be worrisome enough for you to create a corporate-use policy that prohibits jailbreaking a smart phone.

iPad Mini On The Way?

Rumors are running rampant that an iPad Mini will be coming to store shelves soon. Details are scant as of press time, but it's expected that the device will boast a seven-inch display, and include all the same features available in the current 9.7-inch iPad. The seven-inch model would be designed for customers -- especially enterprise users -- who want more mobility than is currently offered by the iPad.

Although it's a rumor at this point, the iPad Mini is worth considering for CIOs. The device would feature the familiar iOS functionality and be a little bit easier to carry around than its larger cousin. Keep a close eye on this one. If you're contemplating tablet options for your workforce, keep in mind that the iPad Mini is out on the horizon.