Whitman Makes Surprise Appearance At HP's Event In China


Hewlett-Packard unveiled a barrage of PCs and printers at its Global Influencers conference in Shanghai, China, this week, and CEO Meg Whitman capped things off Thursday by showing up unexpectedly and fielding questions from an inquisitive audience.

HP is the world's largest PC maker, and China is now the world's largest PC market by shipments. But Whitman's first address to the Chinese media as HP CEO wasn't about business-focused lip service.

HP has been doing business in China since 1985 and has seven R&D and manufacturing facilities in the country. While HP is facing challenges from Lenovo and Apple, it is also intimately familiar with the Chinese IT marketplace and believes this will be a differentiator.

"We could have done this launch from any location in the world, but we chose to do it in China," Whitman told a crowd of about 500 local and international media at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. "This reinforces China's position as a top technology area and our dedication to China."

Whitman's first major decision as CEO was to retain the company’s PC-selling Personal Systems Group. Since then, she has made it clear that she never would have entertained the idea of selling or spinning off PSG, and she did so once again at the event in Shanghai.

"We make over 90 million PCs in China every year. We have a real base to build on, and we need to continue to develop that," Whitman told attendees. "We have got to increase our investment in this country, and we are here for the long haul with a significant investment."

In a major reorganization in March, HP combined PSG with its Imaging and Printing Group, forming the Printing and Personal Systems division. That group is led by Todd Bradley, who is also leading HP's efforts to expand its market share in China.

Whitman and Bradley fielded questions from the audience for more than a half-hour. Some pertained to HP's recent merger of its printer and PC businesses and the expected benefits of this move.

"With PPS, we have already made some great progress," Whitman said. "The combination of the groups will remove complexity, and a new unified brand. There will also be more interoperability between devices."

NEXT: HP's Competitive Advantage In China