Silicon Valley Superstar's Departure Is A Big Blow To HP


It is no small matter that Todd Bradley, the executive vice president of HP's $40 billion PSG business, served as the CEO of Palm from 2001 to 2005 before he came to HP. Bradley had a vision for the PC business that included tablets and smartphones when he pushed hard for the Palm acquisition. All of that, of course, was given short shrift by former HP CEO Leo Apotheker.

Bradley and Rubinstein, in fact, were blindsided by Apotheker who informed them both that the company was killing the HP TouchPad tablet and getting out of the Palm phone market only days before a press release was issued.

Whitman, who was a member of the board that authorized the decision to kill the HP TouchPad Tablet and the Palm smartphones, is now trying to pick up the pieces from the Apotheker fiasco. Bradley, for his part, faces the daunting task of rearchitecting product strategy for a business whose most precious engineering asset -- the Palm and WebOS hardware and software development teams -- has been left twisting in the wind.

HP solution providers, meanwhile, are filling in the gaps left by HP's tablet flop by turning to Apple and other vendors.

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y., solution provider, says Future Tech will sell thousands of Apple iPads this year. "It's a hot product," he says of the tablet. "There is no question about it. I have never seen anything like it. And it is going to go further than that. I see customers moving to just smartphones where they won't even use a tablet."

Venero, who was disappointed by HP's decision to kill the WebOS-based HP tablet, says he doesn't even travel with a notebook anymore, but instead relies on his Apple iPad. "That's becoming mainstream," he says. "We have customers that are shifting their purchases from notebooks and PCs to Tablets."

Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wis.-based solution provider and HP partner, said he sees Rubinstein's departure as a fait accompli given the demise of the TouchPad. "They dropped the tablet and WebOS, so what do they need him for?" says Chernick. "I'm just glad they still have Todd [Bradley]."

"I can't sit here and beat myself up over what could have been and what should be," says Chernick of the HP Tablet demise. "I am dependent on my manufacturers to bring me my products to go to market with. I can't apologize for not having an HP Tablet. Nobody has it all. But HP has a helluva lot of stuff going for them."

Chernick also carries the Apple iPad. "HP is 20 times bigger for me than Apple," he says. "But that doesn't mean Apple isn't important."

Important indeed. And becoming more important with every day that passes.