Monday, May 20, 2024

How HP Inc. Could Grow to Overshadow HP

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HP is separating into two companies in November, one focused on the Enterprise and the other with both consumer and business offerings focused more on users.  

The lesson we learned this last decade with Apple is that a company with a solid focus on the user of technology who is also a buyer of that technology has more volatility but also more financial potential than an IT focused firm.  If we were to look back in 2025 and tell the story of how HP Inc. became a raging success, here’s the sequence of events that might have created that result. 

Break Out Product

HP Inc.’s phenomenal success, like Apple’s, will likely require at least one break out product.  For Apple it was the iPod, for HP it may be the 3D printer.  In many ways the 3D printer market mirrors the MP3 market that existed before the iPod.  A lot of products from a wide variety of companies but none of them yet at critical mass in business or in consumer segments.  Razor/blade model that supports the paper printer industry is nascent with 3D printers, and HP has a great deal of industry knowledge on how to pull this together.  

They have the only 3D scanner focused PC in the market.  Called the Sprout, it is a rather interesting machine, and bundled with a personal 3D printer could be particularly powerful if the solution is easy and cheap enough for a general buyer. This showcases that they actually have a nice foundation that cuts across the company for this kind of break out success.   

They’d likely need to partner with someone else to provide a backend of already scanned objects, and they have relationships with both Google and Microsoft initially to make this happen. However, eventually, much like Apple did with iTunes, they would need to create their own service. And their printer division is actually rather expert at document and image management – a skill that would play very well here.  

Expanding Forward

Much like Apple took the iPod and grew the line to add telephony (iPhone), larger size (iPad), and wearable tech (Apple Watch) the 3D Scanner Printer would have to expand as well.  

It could follow a somewhat similar path by creating 3D avatars for remote communication, room size scanner/printers for industrial use (how about printing your own car body design), or being able to print your clothing and accessories (wearable).  They already have an industrial class product in the works

In each case, the effort would take the initial core technology and expand it to other markets or other opportunities within the market.  We even have companies working on 3D printer for food that could replace everything from your refrigerator to pans and stove in the future home. 

HP already has underutilized printing capability for car and wall wraps, and combined with this you could have stores where you walk in, use a kiosk to order what you want, and it is manufactured custom to you while you wait.  Clothing stores with unlimited styles, colors, and sizes yours after a moment on a terminal and they clearly could be delivered the same day if you’d rather shop on-line. 

You could even instantly redecorate or accessorize your home or car for your favorite TV or movie. Even printing the Game of Thrones throne wouldn’t be that difficult.  (And a lot cheaper). 

More Potential Growth

Other potential areas of expansion: Given that Tesla is basically just a rolling computer and both Apple and Google are looking at cars, HP could move on the automotive opportunity or other forms of electric transportation. And with VR and AR coming, create a new product that embraced that technology as well.  

But I think the 3D printing idea is likely the most powerful and, I expect, whether HP pulls this off or not, 3D printing will likely be their biggest success or their largest missed opportunity.   We’ll see.  


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