DURING AN AUDIENCE Q&A session after Meg Whitman's Global Partner Conference (GPC) speech in Las Vegas last week, one reseller took to the microphone to share his thoughts on the current and former HP CEOs.
He explained that after last year's GPC, when he returned to the office and was asked by customers and employees his views on then CEO Leo Apotheker, "he was proved right". He didn’t need to go into detail on his feedback, but it was clearly negative, supported by the removal of Apotheker late last year.
But this year, he said, when he returns to the office and is asked the same question about HP's new CEO Whitman he'll have only one thing to say: "She rocks!"
This received a hearty round of applause - one of several spontaneous outbursts of clapping that morning during Whitman's speech. Now it could be that all the love in the room was more down to the fact that this was a bunch of channel partners, known for their more outspoken and lively demeanours compared to the usual crowd of IT managers gathered at IT conferences, rather than a genuine indication of Whitman's success so far at the company.
However, even at the media event after the keynote, the gathered press, including me - normally known for a more cynical outlook - shared in enthusiasm for HP's new CEO.
So what was the reason for this optimism? For me a few things stood out as to why Whitman will prove to be a great leader for HP.
First off is her ability to make quick decisions and back them up once she's decided. WebOS was much unloved under Apotheker, and the unsuccessful Touchpad was late to market and didn't offer anything spectacular compared to the existing models from Apple, Samsung and all. By open sourcing the mobile operating system, at least HP is putting WebOS in a position where it could attract external innovation and development, rather than leaving it to rot in HP's dungeons.
Whether Whitman's bold statement that WebOS can start competing with Apple's IOS and Google's Android, which she views as a closed system and soon-to-be closed system, respectively, comes to anything remains to be seen. HP will have to invent a whole new reason for having a smartphone or tablet to dislodge the incumbents. But what a relief that HP has given WebOS a future and at least the potential to succeed.