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Could Open Source Investment Save HP?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the in-case-llama-farming-falls-through dept.

HP 126

deadeyefred writes "HP's new CEO, Meg Whitman, has a number of issues to deal with to right the ship and put the company on a growth track again. Instead of massive changes to its organization and product line, could $4.5 billion in open source investments do the trick? An argument might be made that HP could boost its competitiveness by putting half of its R&D budget ($1.5 billion a year) into projects like Xen.org, Android and OpenStack. It would still be less than half what HP is paying for Autonomy and allow it to focus on solving problems rather than protecting proprietary product lines and fiefdoms."

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126 comments

uhm let's see (1)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#37496848)

Sun - no

Netscape - no

Palm - no

more examples?

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37496918)

Sun - no

Netscape - no

Palm - no

more examples?

So, your answer is 'maybe,' since a negative expample doesn't acutally prove anything....

Re:uhm let's see (3, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#37496960)

Red Hat - Yes...
IBM - Yes...

It's all in how you go about it all.

However...

Sun screwed up and didn't "get it" quick enough to turn it around for themselves. Starting late on the game and/or not having a handle on it costs dearly.

Palm? OpenSource? I don't see a fully FOSS WebOS. I don't see a fully FOSS PalmOS either.

Netscape? They FOSSed things as they were DYING.

Your examples aren't.

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497048)

IBM - Yes...

Ignoring the fact that more than 90% of IBM's revenue comes from proprietary software and hardware?

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#37497066)

Ah, but that's NOT the supposition that was being made there- and if you're being HONEST about it with yourself, you'd agree with the statement I just made.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#37497636)

Most of IBMs revenue actually comes from consultancy...
And most of their proprietary hardware can be ordered with linux.

Re:uhm let's see (2)

petermgreen (876956) | about 2 years ago | (#37497460)

did FOSS really save IBM? I was under the impression that what saved IBM was reinventing themselves as a "soloutions" company. They may use a bit of FOSS in their solutions and contribute a bit to the projects they use but I never got the impression it was critical to them.

As for HP the real question IMO is would they be able to monetize their contributions. Contributing to FOSS buys you experience with the software (useful for consultancy) and mindshare with the projects leaders (useful if you are trying to build a solution on top of the software and want it steering in your direction) but ultimately to make money you need a product or service to sell, preferably one that is hard to duplicate.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500134)

Going FOSS, by itself, is not going to save any company. A company only lives for as long as it has a viable business model. The exact nature of that model depends on circumstances, such as what the company is actually good at, and where they currently are in the market. In some cases, viable business models incorporate FOSS (such as IBM's) or even hinge on it (such as RedHat's). In other cases, they do not.

Either way, focusing on FOSS alone as a magic bullet for a company (in either meaning - both "FOSS killed Sun" and "FOSS saved IBM" are like this) is silly.

Re:uhm let's see (4, Insightful)

paulsnx2 (453081) | about 2 years ago | (#37497032)

Sun's problem wasn't because they contributed to Open Source. The problem with Sun was that they couldn't be bothered with making money.

Oracle made their operations profitable within a year without any significant changes to their open source projects. Or in other words, had they chosen to support all the same open source efforts, the changes in marketing and management Oracle introduced still made sun profitable.

IBM contributes heavily to open source, and in fact might be the biggest contributor to open source, and they are quite profitable.

Google contributes heavily to open source, and they are quite profitable.

Companies that contribute to Open Source just cannot make that their *entire* business plan.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#37497070)

Oracle made their operations profitable within a year without any significant changes to their open source projects.

And by "significant changes" you mean dumping most of the loser projects and monetizing most of the open source projects with proprietary extensions?

IBM contributes heavily to open source, and in fact might be the biggest contributor to open source, and they are quite profitable.

Due to their proprietary hardware and software that they sell. Not due to open source. The open source part is just leveraged to sell more proprietary hardware and software.

Google contributes heavily to open source, and they are quite profitable.

Due to their proprietary search engine and ad networks. Not due to their open source projects.

Re:uhm let's see (2)

paulsnx2 (453081) | about 2 years ago | (#37497336)

Your argument is like "Apple succeeds because of their Excellent Hardware, not due to their excellent advertising."

Seriously, Oracle didn't save enough money by cutting projects, nor made enough money by diverting users from open source to proprietary extensions to make Sun profitable. The fact is that Larry is pretty good at walking up to a company/government/organization and saying, "Say, why don't you buy my hardware? Oh, and here is your service contract!"

I will tell you how dumb Sun was.... Sun actively diverted service contracts to SUN HARDWARE to IBM!! Now cutting THAT off on day one went along way for Oracle making Sun profitable. Making Sun profitable had little to do with cutting Sun's support for Open Source. (Of course I am not claiming it hurt either; however long term if Oracle fails to continue to support Java and MySQL and other significant projects, it could come back to haunt them!)

IBM and Google have to make money. Open source both price cuts competition, makes friendly with customers, and provides them with a better product that they can make money on (hardware, advertising, whatever).

There IS a significant place for open source in a company's business plan.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499054)

I just don't get how people view Sun. They were the greatest workstation provider ever. They were number one, and never lost that spot. They were the opposite of stupid... they were the geniuses who pioneered high end personal computing. What killed Sun was Moore's Law. It wasn't their fault that workstations weren't wanted anymore. In fact, Intel is facing a similar problem right now. Who want's to pay hundreds of dollars for a CPU when my ARM based phone has more power than I need? Sure, if Sun had an evil marketing genius like Jobs, they could have morphed into Google or some such nonsense. Or maybe it could have been JBL or Zenith or Atari or Sony or HP or Motorola, or any other great company who's time had ended, though I hate to compare dumb companies like these who simply failed to execute to Sun, who innovated to the end. I just can't blame a company for being number one in their market while making their customers happy. The market went away, and Sun followed. Why do we feel they should have morphed into some other company with nothing in common with building workstations? Do we really think Sun should be selling on-line advertising or ebooks?

Anyway, Oracle is on my sh*t-list. They "dumped most of the loser projects", including virtually all support for accessibility software for the blind. This is a hot-button issue for me, and as far as I'm concerned, the decision makers at Oracle deserve to burn in Hell.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500292)

Your argument is like "Apple succeeds because of their Excellent Hardware, not due to their excellent advertising."

Well, given that i've seen less apple advertising than any other hardware or software vendor, i'd say that's true. I would wager that more of apple's sales come from word of mouth (through people being happy with their products) than actual advertising.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#37497360)

Due to their proprietary hardware and software that they sell. Not due to open source. The open source part is just leveraged to sell more proprietary hardware and software.

So? Does Google Search make money, or is it leveraged to sell more ads? Is Google Search not important to Google's success?

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 2 years ago | (#37497594)

Indeed, open source is a tool, making your entire business model open source, will not generate any income. Giving away open source tools to enhance your primary business model, is the key. Google's business model involves the internet growing at a rapid pace, as a result they did many changes and improvements to boost the pace the internet grows at. Open source is good soil for certain types of growth adn development, it isn't the fruit, but it gives the plant what it needs, and some plants need a mixture of good soil, and some need a good amount of bullshit on top of that good soil to grow.

Re:uhm let's see (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#37497608)

IBM contributes heavily to open source, and in fact might be the biggest contributor to open source, and they are quite profitable.

Due to their proprietary hardware and software that they sell. Not due to open source.

Actually, that's not true. In 2010 [businessweek.com], IBM earned $58.7 billion from its business services, technology services, and finance divisions, compared to $40.5 billion for its software and systems and technology divisions. So most of IBM's money comes from consulting and services, in which might involve proprietary products as well as open source software. IBM's policy is to offer its customers solutions that are the best fit for their needs and budgets -- that is, they'll bleed you as much as they can, but if it makes the most sense to use open source software, they'll use that.

Also, even some of IBM's proprietary software is open source. Let me repeat that: Even some of the software that you describe as "proprietary" also comprises open source elements. Not every open source license forbids commercial use. For example, IBM's WebSphere Application Server bundles a modified version of the Apache HTTP server (unless you want to use something else). In reverse, IBM has donated a number of products to the Apache Foundation, and these are usually mature packages that IBM was already deploying for real-world projects (e.g. CloudScape, aka Derby) and continues to use today -- now IBM just gains the benefits of community development. To the extent that Java is also open source, IBM is obviously heavily involved in the Java Specification Process (even if it has its own, proprietary Java products).

So you really can't claim IBM isn't a good open source citizen, and you can't claim IBM isn't profiting from its decision to embrace open source,either (where appropriate). Consider this: In 2010, IBM earned $22.5 billion from its software business. You know what it's gross profit margin from that business was? 86.9 percent. That's right, 86.9 percent. Think open source had nothing to do with that?

The open source part is just leveraged to sell more proprietary hardware and software.

Correction: The open source part is just leveraged -- or, if we can drop the bullshit MBA jargon, it's used to make money. What's wrong with that? I thought that was the whole topic of the thread.

Re:uhm let's see (3, Interesting)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498830)

I am not sure this is a useful guide to what HP would do. After all, some of Apple's software is also open source; witness the Apache Server bundled with all the stuff on my Mac laptop. You quote numbers which look authoritative, but we don't know how much of consulting and services is attributable to open source and how much is attributable to proprietary, so they don't really make the case for open source.

It's worth noting that Sun under Schwartz had a plan for open source software, it just did not succeed. As related at the time, the goal was to use open source as a lever into Brazil/Russia/India/China and other places, and then sell other stuff. The goal was that almost all software would be open sourced, under the theory that most of Sun's paying customers (not to be confusing with non-paying non-customers) really didn't have a choice to just download their stuff from the net and service it themselves, either because of expertise issues, or regulatory issues, or quirky-customization issues. That is, Schwartz was pretty explicitly buying into the notion that non-paying software users need not represent lost sales, because the bulk of those users would not pay for it under any circumstances (unlike, say, the RIAA, MPAA, or BSA). They were serious about this; they flew a mess of people out to Santa Clara in late 2007 for a several-day open source summit, and I have 60 pages of notes that I took there.

Obviously the plan didn't work, but it was a plan, and it had connectable dots. My thinking is anyone proposing open source to save HP's business, had better be able to outline a plan that is better than Schwartz's outline to us.

I'd like to see the HP train stop wrecking. I have some friends who work there. There's lovely schadenfreude in seeing overpaid board members making stupid mistakes, till you notice that it's not their jobs that are on the line.

Re:uhm let's see (3, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499160)

Sun's plan worked brilliantly. They dominated workstation markets pretty much everywhere, and their open source policy was central to that. The main reason for Sun's early success (remember how they killed Apollo?) was they just ran the same software that all the universities were using. I remember how my own code just ran on the things... it was awesome. Their open-source policy, which was long before the phrase "open source" was coined, enabled them to trash the competition. Then they got big, and as the number one company in their space, they got cold feet about open source. IMO, the single biggest mistake Sun ever made was to take Berkeley Unix private, and relabel it Sun-OS (and later, Solaris). It was unbelievably super-dumb. Had they kept it open, there never would have been any compelling reason for Linux, much less BSD. My guess is that they realized their mistake, and tried to the end to make up for it by becoming radical supporters of open source. It was too little, too late. However, it wasn't that their open source strategy failed. It was their choice of back-stabbing the community that killed them. Well, that and Moore's Law, and the lack of an evil marketing genius like Jobs.

Anyway, Meg isn't the marketing genius HP needs. She pretty much is a nail in the coffin.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#37498078)

So what's your point? No one (with a brain) ever said you could make money working on OSS, giving it away for free, and doing nothing else. If you want to make money directly on software, you have to be proprietary, like MS or Intuit. OSS is a way for non-software companies to provide more value to their customers and sell more of whatever it is they're selling (be it hardware, support, consulting services, etc.).

Similarly, HP is not a software company, it's mainly a hardware company. However, they're probably too far gone to be saved by any new direction at this point.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498828)

So what's your point? No one (with a brain) ever said you could make money working on OSS, giving it away for free, and doing nothing else. If you want to make money directly on software, you have to be proprietary, like MS or Intuit.

Or a hybrid model: Make a server software package, give it away for free under an OSS license, but if you want to use it with an Oracle or DB2 database (for example), you need to buy a proprietary plugin.

Or do what EnterpriseDB does -- it takes PostgreSQL and adds a bunch of features to it, perhaps the most significant being Oracle PL/SQL compatibility (so you can take applications written for Oracle and port them easily to PostgreSQL). EnterpriseDB is proprietary, but obviously it relies 100 percent on PostgreSQL for its underlying database. Recognizing this, EnterpriseDB contributes a ton back to the PostgreSQL project (it "invests in open source"). But from a certain point of view, it's still "just" a proprietary software company, making money from software.

Or create a product where the real benefit to many commercial customers will be to embed it in their own proprietary software, then offer it under a dual license for a fee. (MySQL always made a lot of its revenue from this.)

(BTW, I'm not saying the parent wasn't aware of these examples; I'm just pointing them out.)

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500300)

Well... RedHat does....

Allright, you ahve compile virtually everything within the redHat Enterprise Linux yourself to get it for free, but still.... it's quite possible to make a damn good product, give it away for free, and make shitloads of money.

RedHat's foracasting to break the $1milliard barrier in the 2011 fiscal year... with a product you can get 100% for free. (if you ahve a clue what a compiler is, that is)

Re:uhm let's see (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499096)

Some of their projects were simply amateur-level or research-only or trying to replace something that didn't need replacing. ZFS was and is currently being monetized by a host of smaller companies in it's open-source state. Many companies would've loved to pay for specific enhancements to ZFS or support for what was considered the unstable branch but the business-side of Sun was still stuck on the "let's see how we can sell the hardware with it" and even though the hardware was nice, it was overpriced and overqualified for most users. "Supported by Sun" ZFS pools were stuck several version numbers behind their competition. Also "Paid Solaris" was not fully open sourced and the community was developing alternatives to many technologies in Solaris and thus the development was done on OpenSolaris or a derivative but couldn't easily be ported to a paid Solaris.

IBM uses Linux and x86 boxes, not so much proprietary stuff anymore. They have nice hardware but also really good service and r&d into their products which is why people in eg. supercomputing and mainframe replacements choose IBM over cheaper white boxes with the same software.

Google relies on open source. The application is not open source but then again, most business applications aren't. Google didn't invest in Open Source when it came along like the big names like IBM and HP who were selling calculators and typewriters before computers, Google came along because of Open Source - if they would have to pay for every piece of software initially and couldn't modify it they probably wouldn't even have existed.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500076)

And by "significant changes" you mean dumping most of the loser projects and monetizing most of the open source projects with proprietary extensions?

With few exceptions, that's how most successful F/OSS projects work. The free (as in beer) version is essentially subsidised in some way - either with a proprietary version that usually includes a few extras or with a company that provides consulting and support.

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497234)

And there's a thousand software firms that don't contribute to open source who make money. Open source has nothing to do with profitability or productivity. That's just a myth the open sourcers will keep forcing on you.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

segin (883667) | about 2 years ago | (#37497316)

And you can't take money with you when you die. At least some belief systems will allow you to take open source with you (provided you learn the source code, which then, as part of your personal knowledge, is part of your soul.)

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497942)

Fucking Christian are ya? Go fuck your god in the ass you fucking low life fucking fundie bitch.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

paulsnx2 (453081) | about 2 years ago | (#37497354)

Yeah, but even Microsoft is getting into the open source game. It may be that certain dynamics of software may favor companies of a certain profile who support selected open source efforts.

I think claiming that every company needs to support open source is like saying every company has to serve espresso. Obviously some will, and some won't.

HP has supported Linux for a long time (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499806)

HP donates the kernel.org servers and they always have. And Linus' personal development gear sometimes. They push a lot of gear on the kernel team, in the prerelease phase. They employ hundreds of engineers, perhaps thousands, to validate their gear against Linux and submit patches upstream. Usually just to fix their gear before release because if it has a problem with Linux it's usually broke, but bugs in Linux are found too. They get good value from this because when HP explores corner cases with Linux and something breaks it's easier to get right down to the lines of code right before the thing wrong and examine the machine states that led to the failure. Linux is actually used to make the machines run Windows services better too, because the things that go wrong in Linux usually would go wrong in Windows too but would be harder to find.

They have Linux support for every server they sell, and nearly every printer too. RedHat and Suse are validation targets that must be met before a server is launched. They have their own Linux distribution for thin clients. Their in-house LeftHand San (and Virtual San Appliance) run Linux. Their million-dollar fileserver in a rack run Lustre on Unix or Linux.

HP's own diagnostic CD they used to ship with every server, but which is now just a download usually, is also a custom Linux distribution. They have their own Honest to God Unix as well - HP-UX - so they don't have to do these things. But they do.

HP didn't come to have 31% of the top 500 supercomputer installations in the world by accident. They didn't become the top server vendor in the world by accident. It's their rock-solid Linux support that helped put them there when others didn't bother to try - because a metric boatload of servers run Linux and Linux server buyers know better than to get their gear from Dell. On the server side the best answer usually wins.

These open-source installations have huge things to do with HP's profitability and productivity because servers have fair margins and they almost always get high-margin support uplifts and services besides. They try pretty hard not to have Windows-only components in their business desktops and laptops too. They don't try as hard as they could on the consumer side. But they have little choice about that.

On the consumer side it's different. Even after they've had the thing built in the same depressing factory iPads are built in, reducing their component costs to the bare minimum with world-beating economies of scale and loading them up with every bearable form of shovelware, adware and crudware, they still lose money on every single unit. It's only when they add in the "co-marketing" dollars from Microsoft that they get for putting "HP recommends Windows 7" on every page of their website, by including Windows in their advertising and on every machine, and so on, that they turn a profit at all. And it's the same across the industry. When HP adds in these monies and it makes five points of operating margin in a good year, that's a huge win. Some OEM companies actually lose money every year (not the same companies every year, of course). Naturally this means that whether or not a PC OEM makes money in any given year is entirely at the whim of Microsoft's marketing department. That's why HP, at the pinnacle of success in client PCs wants out of this game. By being on top HP's a target for Microsoft to trim their sails, and Microsoft wants leverage on the server side of things. Better to separate the two so that in at least one you can drive progress and establish your brand - and get good margins.

At the executive level there are some confused folk, as there often are. But HP has some engineers yet that know a good solution when they see it.

Now if their web team would find W3.org and build their websites and management software to dish well-established standards, that would be nice. Guys, believe it or not coding to the internationally accepted standards is actually easier and more effective than the proprietary alternatives. Also, you can make me use IE - but I'll hate you for choosing to do so.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500094)

Software companies make money? Which ones?

The only profitable ones are Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe and a few antivirus/bullshit ankle biters like Symantec and McAfee. Everyone else is either unprofitable, got out of software business, bought out by former clients, or combined software it with hardware and services.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498318)

Intel also contributes a lot to Open Source. Of course, they make all their money selling chips.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#37497080)

The thing is, sun didn't leverage open source. They open sourced things they had, things that already had minshare even.

Netscape died, but mozilla makes ten million a year, not huge, but decent.

The summary suggests hp invest in existing projects (leveraging work already done) rather than buying companies. A stradegy that worked for IBM.

Open source as marketing worked for one of the DBs (MySQL I think), and drupal (I imagine dries does better now than before)

Re:uhm let's see (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#37497100)

Google. Facebook. They both do plenty of proprietary; but their FOSS is clearly what's given them the leg up to get competitive and they have pretty strong community involvement in quite a bit of the software they have released back.

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#37497142)

They both do plenty of proprietary;

And by "plenty" you mean pretty much the entirety of their revenue streams, right? The only things that Google or Facebook put out as FOSS are things they can't monetize. Now if Google were to open source its search engine or ad platform then you might have a point.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498114)

You're really being an idiot. No one said you had to open-source everything, only the things that make sense to. You think Google would have been successful in the mobile space if they made their own proprietary mobile OS instead of adopting parts of Linux and creating Android with it? You'd be an idiot if you said yes. OTOH, open-sourcing their search engine would also be quite stupid, but I'm sure they make use of lots of OSS software to run their search engine software on top of.

Re:uhm let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497312)

Netscape - no

Yeah, but look where it's gotten their web browser (firefox), ~25% market share. Sure, the company tanked, but maybe it would've done so either way, the important thing is that the product lives on.

Re:uhm let's see (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500280)

LOL. beaten like a red headed step child.

"Open source" isn't some magical silver bullet for business strategy. Sure, it may be part of some solution, but simply open sourcing everything with no other plan is only going to make things worse for HP.

hahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37496886)

like meg whitman is actually going to do anything to right the ship. she is more concerned about her golden parachute than righting HP.
for someone to actually right the ship you need someone like Steve Jobs who is currently in short supply. besides, the board would probably fire steve even if he was put in charge.

Hey, I have an open source project! (3, Interesting)

paulsnx2 (453081) | about 2 years ago | (#37496898)

Man, what a dream that would be! A company that focuses on solving problems for customers, and doesn't try to own every little crappy angle to squeeze their customers!

Seriously, imagine if HP took *every* possible open source option in building a PC, and opened as much of the system as possible to allow crowd sourcing of solutions to the problems that always pop up in systems! Now with Windows, that would still be pretty limited. But hey! This would be a company I could buy from!

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 2 years ago | (#37497434)

Seriously, imagine if HP took *every* possible open source option in building a PC, and opened as much of the system as possible to allow crowd sourcing of solutions to the problems that always pop up in systems!

Then another PC manufacturer would wait until it's perfected and just take the whole thing and sell it for less because they didn't spend all that money on R&D.

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499044)

Open source is not public domain. Fail Troll

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499144)

"Open source is not public domain. Fail Troll"

So tell me, what aspect of freely distributable prevents the situation I just described from happening?

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499964)

No it isn't public domain. But the cost of making open source your own is pretty low.

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500380)

You assume that brand recognition has no impact.

I'm pretty sure that's a mistake (see Redhat).

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497528)

IF they did that, I'd fall in love with HP again! And I'd only buy HP computers. Heck, I'd even buy their crappy tablet.

They could certainly use good PR to help erase the memories of some of the crap done during the Carly era.

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500310)

The average end user doesn't care. They want the shiny, and open source generally still looks cobbled together from spare parts.

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497958)

Buy from? Well yes. But I'd also become an HP fanboi and defend it religiously on slashdot and while talking to all my apple friends.

Lets not forget the 7000 pc's in my company that would suddenly start becoming HP.

Re:Hey, I have an open source project! (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498942)

"Seriously, imagine if HP took *every* possible open source option in building a PC, and opened as much of the system as possible to allow crowd sourcing of solutions to the problems that always pop up in systems! "

I can imagine. Every Chinese manufacturer would copy it down to the last screw and sell it for half the price.

It's impossible to have an intelligent discussion about Open source anything without talking about the downsides, a big one of which is a distinct loss of competitive advantage to the best/most prolific contributors.

Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 2 years ago | (#37496930)

The HP board of directors would never stand for the short term instability that such a dramatic move would generate. They're too focused on the immediate share value to even begin to think about the long-term health of the company.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#37496974)

If they are that...why did they hire the previous joker that hurt them in the big-picture sense in a way more severely than the suggested dramatic move would do...hm?

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497038)

Because they hired the cat to kill the rat - Fiorina - who wasn't giving them what they wanted.
Now they've hired a dog to kill the cat.

The dog may not be a great decision. Some people think the current HPQ board doesn't have a lot of smarts. (http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=HPQ+board+idiots&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&channel=suggest)

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#37497094)

Some people think the current HPQ board doesn't have a lot of smarts.

This has to be wrong, because it suggests that there is another group of people out there who think the board does, and I thought it was pretty much universally recognized now that HP has probably the most retarded, moronic, intellectually challenged, half-witted, cretinistic, sheer-fuckingly-stupid board in the industrialized world.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#37497258)

Well, that's easily enough solved, they just need gorillas, those will naturally freeze to death when the power gets shut off at corporate their headquarters.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#37497356)

Because they hired the cat to kill the rat - Fiorina - who wasn't giving them what they wanted.

I think you're forgetting Mark Hurd, who came before Apotheker and after Fiorina.The HP board forced Hurd out over a supposed sex scandal, even after admitting that the board's own investigation revealed no evidence of a sex scandal, in what Larry Ellison (!) described as, "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago." I see no evidence that the HP board has hired or fired a CEO in recent years for reasons that could be described as "the best interests of HP."

Remember, also, that it was HP's board that was implicated in the whole "pretexting" scandal, where the board hired private investigators to spy on journalists. They really must be the worst board in Silicon Valley, if not American business as a whole.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 2 years ago | (#37497186)

They canned Apotheker just after he announced something really dramatic.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

jo42 (227475) | about 2 years ago | (#37497842)

HP needs to invest in management with more than half a brain.

So far all management at HP has done is fuck the company into the ground even faster than before.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#37497880)

There was a time in which HP had a corporate identity that would have fit well with open source. They made great hardware, mostly for professionals. Now they're just another mish-mash jack of all trades tech company that needs to sell consumer products to a disappearing middle class in order to thrive. It doesn't really stand a chance. The only tech company dependent on selling to consumers that's doing well in the last several years is Apple, because they're selling luxury goods.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498868)

There was a time in which HP had a corporate identity that would have fit well with open source. They made great hardware, mostly for professionals. Now they're just another mish-mash jack of all trades tech company that needs to sell consumer products to a disappearing middle class in order to thrive. It doesn't really stand a chance. The only tech company dependent on selling to consumers that's doing well in the last several years is Apple, because they're selling luxury goods.

I don't think that's true. Maybe that's only the part of HP that you see. HP still has twice Dell's share of the server market, and quarter over quarter it's been pretty much neck-and-neck with IBM. And when HP talks about ditching its PC business, it's not talking about x86 servers; it's just talking about jettisoning the consumer-facing business that you claim it depends on. HP's printer division also sells a lot into businesses (is there even such a thing as a business-class Lexmark?), and believe it or not HP does sell a decent amount of systems/IT management software. What it really wants to do is become a company more like IBM, which reorganized itself around services and consulting in the mid-90s.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499618)

>What it really wants to do is become a company more like IBM, which reorganized itself around services and consulting in the mid-90s.

Ah, that's just the thing: IBM didn't suddenly wake up one day and think that it wants to be X (a services company). It already was X.

The PC division was a minuscule portion of profits already.

That's not the same for HP. (Somebody posted the figures here during the original discussion when news broke they were trying to do an IBM.)

It was stupid to announce they were jettisoning the consumer divisions. They should have grown the other stuff, then let go of consumer.

Re:Ridiculous Idea (Unfortunately) (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499804)

The only way to save HP is to stage a public hanging of the board of directors, including previous board members for the last 15 years or so. I would include the disinterred remains of any who have already died.

To be thorough, they should be hung with slip knots instead of a hangman's noose, so that they die slowly by strangulation. Then their body should be allowed to rot at the end of the rope. With any luck there eyes will be eaten by ravens, but I wouldn't count on this.

Anything short of this will be useless. Realistically, it is already too late, and all that a mass execution would do is offer a brief moment of cheer to the employees, former employees in the HP pension plan, and stock holders. Given that they are completely screwed, this is the minimum revenge that they are entitled to.

Unicorns. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37496962)

HP should sell of their cash cow - printer ink - and start working on building living spaces for unicorns. They have about as much experience with that as they do in software, and in contrast, haven't demonstrated gross incompetence in unicorn housing.
Can I be CEO next?

Re:Unicorns. (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#37497024)

...Can I be CEO next?

I'm afraid you'll have to wait the obligatory week for your chance. The HP board is trying as hard as it can to match the CEO replacement cycle with the Mozilla release cycle, so give them a chance.

Re:Unicorns. (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498274)

Exactly. HP can't write software very well (e.g. their horribly bloated printer drivers). Rather than go out and buy something like WebOS which would struggle to get any market share, they want to join the Android bandwagon. The open source crowd has done most of the port getting Android to work on the Touchpad already, so their business model just needs to leverage the free software development and concentrate on cranking out the cheap chinese-made tablets.

Honestly, the HP desktops and laptops have improved considerably over the last few years. They stopped making so many strange design decisions, dropped some of the stupid proprietary parts, and the quality went up.

Touch---wha??? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#37497018)

Figure out how to make a profit off of manufacturing Touchpads at a $100 and flood the friggin' market.

Re:Touch---wha??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497144)

If hp *could* pull that off, they would beat the *open source* OLPC project.

More Microservers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497046)

N36L forever!

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2011/06/17/project-massive-array-of-inexpensive-servers-aka-mais/

I love open source, but... (1)

Ossifer (703813) | about 2 years ago | (#37497116)

... does every major story have to be followed up with a "open source" side story?

Re:I love open source, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497284)

Proprietary software is open and shut. A company makes the product and sells it. Open source, is more like weather control, you improve it to suit your needs, but it helps everyone.
The fact that open source practically created the internet, the IT&C of today, probably helps too.

The competition is fierce (1)

ritzer (934174) | about 2 years ago | (#37497124)

The problem with open source -- the competition has imitated your product before you've recouped your R&D $. When you have a solution to that one, let me know.

Re:The competition is fierce (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497396)

Make a better product and compete in a larger market. Funny how this concept is so foreign in technology, but basic business in every other field. You can always have lock in/proprietary stuff, but if your niche market fails to grow, you are stuck. Having a larger ecosystem solves that, and open source does not guarantee that you will succeed, but it increases the probability given the greater adoption.

Re:The competition is fierce (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#37497760)

Open source R&D is shared, so you build 5% on top of someone else's work, then someone else builds an extra 5% on the sum of your work and what came before... To add to that, you can benefit from their extra 5% too should you wish to.

How much R&D do you think palm/hp saved by building webos on top of linux instead of having to develop their own os totally from scratch?

Re:The competition is fierce (1)

zzatz (965857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499354)

You know, selling software isn't the only way to make money. In fact, the only reason *anyone* sells software is that their customers can make money using it.

When you make money by using software, driving down the cost of acquiring said software helps profits. That's where open source comes in. If you are in the business of web hosting, it makes sense to use Apache or other open source software, and maybe hire a developer or two if you need enhancements. Your competitive advantage isn't being the only company using that software, it's using it better than others; another reason to hire developers who know the software better than anyone else.

Google makes money selling Internet advertising. Anything that they can do to get people to spend more time on the Internet increases the value of the ads they sell. They don't need to sell software. Selling software would interfere with their core business.

The vast majority of programmers write code that is not sold as a separate product. It's used internally, like the trading programs used by investment bankers. Or it's embedded within the real product, like the software that controls the engine in your car.

Stop thinking about software as a product and realize that most people see it as a cost. Reducing your costs improves your bottom line.

Re:The competition is fierce (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500338)

When you make money by using software, driving down the cost of acquiring said software helps profits. That's where open source comes in. If you are in the business of web hosting, it makes sense to use Apache or other open source software, and maybe hire a developer or two if you need enhancements. Your competitive advantage isn't being the only company using that software, it's using it better than others; another reason to hire developers who know the software better than anyone else.

So, you're saying i need to hire developers to gain enhancements to the software that no one else has, to gain a competitive advantage?

Thanks for confirming the proprietary software business model.

What Could Possible Go Wrong? (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#37497248)

IMHO. It's been HP that has lead the way for corporations to outsource services to India, and manufacturing to China. Hell, at Fry's,(Fountain Valley), I was told HP hardware was being phased out. I use to like HP hardware, now the new stuff will become as tainted as the refugee from Goldman Sacks. If her job isn't to bring jobs back into the U.S., and manufacturing back to the U.S., then the only thing she has experience in is Mergers, and Acquisitions. I'll go out on a limb here and say, "SELL ! SELL ! SELL ! SELL !", because I wouldn't trust her engineering knowledge to properly plug in an extension cord for her portable hair dryer.

Re:What Could Possible Go Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497678)

Just because she decreased the size of programmers' cubicles to not allow two computer, while purchasing all new fancy Gulfstream jets for executive travel?

And as to engineering knowledge, she was in charge of global marketing for Mr. Potato Head when she worked at Hasbro.

what on earth are you talking about (1)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#37498004)

there isn't a single manufacturer of computers that is going to 'come back to the US' unless the US allows mass dumping of toxic chemicals from the tech process to be dumped into the local river, and protestors put into labor camps.

because thats what they do in China, and it saves a bundle of money.

Re:What Could Possible Go Wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498632)

Rly? Your getting your tech advice from a sales droid at a Fry's? Even for Slashdot, your post shows a stupendous lack of understanding as to what goes on inside HP. A trivial amount of research would show how uninformed that post was.

Who cares? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#37497300)

There is no reason to care about what happens to HP any more. The old HP is long dead, and the current HP sucks.

Die soon please.

OpenStack and Xen.org, maybe (1)

Salvo (8037) | about 2 years ago | (#37497514)

While OpenStack and Xen.org may be viable investments, they will have to find a way to get a return on their investments. As long as they don't kill off their Linux-based server products, they could really benefit from a competitive and strategic advantage.

Android investment? Huge Legal liability, as Google is finding out from Sun currently. It could also be a huge white elephant. No-one is seeing ROI in their involvement with Android. It could be argued that Android isn't open source either

Magic bullets and wishes (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#37497540)

This sounds like a very short sighted idea in a moment of desperateness

Re:Magic bullets and wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37497906)

I believe you were looking for a "moment of desperation."

I think it's a splendid idea (1)

itsphilip (934602) | about 2 years ago | (#37497896)

There's actually a lot to be gained from taking from and contributing to open source. There are so many great products out there based on open source software. Red Hat is poised to be a billion dollar company this year, and Apple's growth has been meteoric after the rise of OS X and iOS, both of which have kernels rooted in open source. Even though a lot of these big companies have evil tendencies, a commitment to open source can be a healthy way to integrate robust technologies without having to spend a fortune developing something new and proprietary which could ultimately fail anyway. Additionally, it gives something back to the enthusiast community, and many freelance open source contributors get to sharpen their skills as a hobby at home, which makes them valuable to the companies for which they work (mostly high-tech sector). It's a win-win for everyone and I'm excited to see another company realize the value of open source.

Re:I think it's a splendid idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37497976)

Irrelevant. Apple meteoric rise is do to Jobs getting behind Ives. Style and good engineering saved Apple, not open source. Open source allowed them to do it cheaper and easier.

no (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37497948)

getting a team of good designers and engineers, led by someone who drives for excellence and style, and let them do what they do best will save HP - nothing else.

Hiring me to put the team together and lead it will save HP.

Author is incrediably naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37498016)

or doesn't know HP internals, or rambling incoherently or all at once.

I am an open source advocate my self but that doesn't change the fact the HP is not dying and investing half of their R&F budget is going to resurrect it. HP does contribute to Open Source moment, there was a server farm, for instance, open to public, but it was shutdown a while back.

What HP needs to do is streamline the product line (cut down dizzying array of offerings each slightly different than the other). This cuts down the organization proportionately.

HP has this incredible fault tolerant computing on Guardian/NSK, they should adapt and port it to commodity hardware and fight back in the Data Warehousing space with NeoView.

HP also should keep CEO and top level compensation to decent levels, beef up support.

Why would you want to save HP? (1)

Saroset (1383483) | about 2 years ago | (#37498058)

HPs problems aren't due to high level leadership issues, the platforms it's promoting or how it's getting to the market. The problem with HP is that they produce utter crap, and have support that makes me want to scratch my eyes out. That is, once you dig through a few pages and manage to finally figure out how to contact their support. In my most recent interaction they were absolutely useless in helping me and got my name wrong.

I'm typing this on an HP computer that is absolutely LOADED with bloatware. I cant figure out how to get rid of this junk that keeps popping up, requesting to update, requesting to this that and the other. Next to it is an HP printer that literally came out of the box and has refused to admit that I put ink cartridges in it. I've tried everything to get this printer working and HP support has been absolutely useless so far.

Let HP suffer a horrible death, and let the free market learn that producing shoddy products and/or pushing computers out with proprietary crapware is bad business.

Um, Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37498080)

Hate to break it to the original poster, but the fact that their printer ink costs more than gold suggests they aren't in the game to lose money on Open Source.

They can certainly contribute or sell services based on open source material, but if they want to get ahead of the curve they would be better off leveraging what they already have and do well (which is ... nothing.)

They do servers, time to make them less of a boat anchor and start making them low-power, high-multicore,high-memory designs and then do what everyone else is doing and market the VPS advantages. I'm so damned disappointment when it comes to trying to find a good (read as in not designed to waste my money) server configuration and the stupid CoLo only has between 7 and 15A @ 120V, which means that I need as many cores and as much RAM as possible stuffed into a 2U and fit a 3A envelope. But the shit that HP and Dell sell are always UP 4 or 8GB ram max systems instead of the DP or MP systems with 192GB that I want. Realisticly I only need 12 or 16GB, but the configuration pages on their sites always make it more cost effective to buy 2 or 3 systems at a third of the configuration.

Hp funding...? (1)

warrigal (780670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498590)

Why would HP fund Android? Android makes more money, at this point in time, for Microsoft than WP7 does and will probably do so for quite a while. Google makes its money by showing Android users advertising.

No (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498692)

No, God no. If they want to improve things, they can focus on making their laptops bullet-proof. Focus on the hardware, and let the software guys do their things for now. I want a titanium or some other metal case on that laptop. I have a plastic one right now, and I melted part of it with pieces falling off.

Yes, focus on the hardware.

Re:No (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498910)

I want a titanium or some other metal case on that laptop. I have a plastic one right now, and I melted part of it with pieces falling off.

I have an HP laptop with a metal case (I think it's aluminum). On mine, the two USB ports on the right-hand side are too close together, so you can't use both of them at once. They also seem shoddily made, so they don't fit easily with most cables I've tried -- you feel like you really have to shove them to get them in, and sliding them in and out produces a scraping sound. The touchpad absolutely sucks and has shitty drivers that weren't even available on HP's support site until recently (so if you reformatted the drive to get rid of HP's piles of bloatware without checking first, no touchpad for you). But other than that, hey... I guess it does the job. The problem with consumer laptops is that there are no margins in that market anymore, thanks to netbooks. This one's a 14-incher with a Sandy Bridge Core i3, 4GB RAM, and a 640GB hard drive, and I think it cost around $550 out the door, tax included.

Close Source Could Save Them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498766)

Actually being closed source could save them. They already saw a massive demonstration of what to do, give webos away on a device relatively cheap, building a huge user base quickly, driving in developers quickly, and make money off the market mechanism for development and delivery of apps. Hell give them away and what the market share grow into a major player over night.

Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498824)

Why would HP throw money at Android? That's Google's baby, and they've got the resources to take care of it. Along with Samsung, HTC, LG, various Chinese and Korean manufacturers, and Motorola.

I would rather see resouces thrown at desktop Linux. If you're going to invest in mobile, why not Ofono?

HP just needs to streamline there focus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498836)

Hey everyone, I have a HP G62 laptop - Excellent laptop.
I also have a dual core netbook which came with a linux version that boots in 10 seconds - excellent computer as well.
I have two scanners as well from them.
I was looking at there 25" LCD as well.
I would have purchased the Tablet but it needed a bit better hardware to be competitive. Similar to the samsung galaxy 10.1 specs. They web OS is a great system just needed more advanced hardware on tablet. Example like a 8 - 10 mb camera to front and 5mb camera facing the customer. along with similar specs to the galaxy 10.1.
I am not sure why they went away from printers? Maybe not as profitable as the market once was.
I have seen the R&D they have done in the past and it has been great.
So overall
Laptops = great
Tablets = needs work.
Printers = still good.
Montitors = good.
So in my opinion they are not doing bad at all and would still buy there products over competitors most of the time.

No. Seriously, no. (1)

saihung (19097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499034)

Sorry, this idea makes no damned sense. And even assuming that it DID make sense, Whitman is not the person to do it. She does not know how to make things. She's a professional manager, which makes her an upper-class twit who will continue to get paid millions to run companies into the ground. Apotheker collected $25 million severance in return for destroying HP. Whitman is not smart or capable enough to do any better than he did.

Have you thought about the math here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499166)

Seriously, this is an insanely stupid suggestion. HP sells about $130 Billion dollars worth of goods and services each year. All the open source software on the planet would deliver a very small fraction of that in revenue. Whether they invest more in open source or not is irrelevant to their survival.

Acquired by HP last year, getting the hell out of dodge as soon as the retention bonus clears.

Re:Have you thought about the math here? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499530)

Except their net income is only 8.8b dollars. Compare that to a software company like MSFT, which nets 70b in revenue, and keeps 23b in profit.

There's clearly money to be made in OSS. The RHEL model nets Red Hat about 10% profit on their revenue, which is a lot higher than what HP is netting on theirs.

Message is: spend billions on OSS, obtain a cash flow 1.5x higher than average.

Maybe, but I doubt it. (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499672)

HP's problems are much worse than that. They've been driving customers away for years now - and those customers won't be coming back.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt a few times, but the DV2000 laptop was end of my relationship with HP. It had that bad Nvidia chip; HP knew those chips were bad and they had a warehouse full of laptops with bad chips in them. What did they do about it? Yup, they sold those laptops knowing they'd fail.

What did HP do about it? My experience was that their "customer service" hung up on me twice and the email response to my request for help amounted to little more than "go F yourself".

I guess fraud is OK when a corporation does it. I'll never forget, though - and I will NEVER buy any HP product again. I'll advise my friends and family to avoid them.

It'd be better to keep them out of open source; they'd screw up a wet dream.

Meg Whitman is overrated (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499710)

As the CEO of EBay after it hit its "upward spiral", Meg proved to be a mediocre executive. She managed to broker one of the largest deals in history, the purchase of Skype, without managing to buy the source and lost her company tons of dollars. Having been handed one of the sweetest hands in executive history, she managed to not actually bankrupt the company.

She managed to spend STUPID amount of her personal money trying to become governor of California, only to fail miserably. I voted against her, and I give her a vote of no confidence.

Yes but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499818)

HP is far too retarded to pull it off. All of there products are crap firmware, software, printer drivers especially

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