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HP Chairman Blasts Past CEOs for Current Failures

In the wake of lukewarm receptions of the HP TouchPad and the HP Veer, company chairman Ray Lane blames past CEO's

HP's Touchpad has been met by an arguably lukewarm reception. While some sites praise it for its potential and few wins, other sites blast it for its shortcomings in comparison to other manufacturer's tablets that have had less development time before launching. HP's current board chairman, Ray Lane took time this week to do some blasting of his own. His targets of choice: past CEO's Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd

Lane's statements are tantamount to a defense of Leo Apotheker, HP's current CEO, for the past quarter's poor performance. While much of the media and financial analysts pin the source of the failure in the current CEO's lap, Lane feels that it is too early to expect Apotheker to have righted a heeling ship.

Apotheker succeeded to the CEO position after Hurd's resignation following allegations of employee harassment. Under Hurd's tenure, HP was one of the most profitable PC manufacturer's in the world. Aggressive cost-cutting and large layoffs allowed the company to leap to the number one position amongst desktop and laptop makers for much of the last five years. Despite these successes, Lane holds Mark Hurd accountable for making cuts to garner short-term accolades at the expense of deep investments in R&D.

Hurd is not the only CEO Lane feels is to blame, however. He claims that HP's downturn began back when Fiorina was CEO, which seats his assessment of the root cause as far back as 1999; 2005 at the latest. Fiorina oversaw the infamous HP-Compaq merger and suffered a reduction of the company's stock value by 50% under her tenure.

Since Apotheker took leadership of the company in November of 2010, the same month that Lane joined the Board, the company's stock has fallen 11% in value. Product launches from the WebOs division, specifically the HP Touchpad, and HP Veer, have not helped the stock from losing value. HP recently moved Stephen DeWitt, credited for successfully driving HP's laptop sales to a leading position among its competitors, to the position of Senior VP of the WebOS Global Business Unit, ousting former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein from that position. It is possible that this move was made due to the aforementioned shortcomings in WebOS product performance.

Recent research from market analysis firm IDC showed that, despite falling sales last quarter, HP retained its lead worldwide over Dell and Lenovo. In the US, HP outsold the next nearest competitor, Dell, by 733,000 PCs

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Jerry Myers, 2011-07-28 (Update: 2012-05-26)