COMDEX: HP's Fiorina: 'Net should be friendly

Making the Internet more intimate, warm and friendly by wrapping services around just about any platform will be a key challenge for the technology industry in the new millennium, Carly Fiorina, president and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, said in a keynote speech at Comdex yesterday.

"The Internet hasn't lived up to its promises, and for too many people it is too foreign, distant, cold and threatening," Fiorina said. "The challenge for the Internet as we enter the new millennium is to become intimate, friendly, pervasive, personal."

Fiorina, who took the helm at HP in July, said the "pure product era" is over, and the new place to make money on the 'Net is at the convergence of what she called three vectors: services, appliances and infrastructure.

"As an industry we are chasing the opportunity probably too narrowly," Fiorina said. "This opportunity is about the intersection of three important vectors. I, and the rest of HP, right now are focused on one goal: to exploit the intersection for our customers and yours."

Fiorina said HP's strategy revolves around delivering the services over the Internet to the broad range of Internet devices on the market. One of the devices will be a Swatch, Fiorina said in announcing a new partnership between HP and the Swiss watch maker.

HP and Swatch have begun working together to develop the world's first wrist watch that delivers e-services such as simple pieces of information tailored to the user, Fiorina said. The two companies are working through the details of the partnership now, but Fiorina said the new Swatch will be more than just a fashion statement.

Stressing the e-services theme, Fiorina said products become much more useful when surrounded by services.

"A car is a platform for delivering services, and it is in the combination of the product and service that revenue and profit is being made," she said. "The challenge for all of us is to think hard about how to make money from e-services."

Fiorina said she spent about 90 of her first 100 days at HP in the company's laboratories, talking with researchers and inventors and looking at new technologies being developed, including e-speak, which she described as new software at the heart of HP's belief that any product can be turned into any service.

E-speak is a translator of information available on the Internet that's needed at a particular time. For example, it can find information about traffic and tell the user's alarm clock to ring later if the highways aren't jammed. It can also allow a business professional to arrive for a presentation carrying only a palm-size computer, which will be able to pull the presentation off the Web.

Fiorina said HP, in keeping with its belief that there's enough room for everyone as the Internet develops, will release the source code for e-speak on December 8 so that developers can begin writing applications that bring those services to users.

HP's approach is changing, said Fiorina, pledging to return the company to its inventive roots. A new brand awareness campaign launched today employs nostalgic, black and white photos of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the garage where they unleashed their inventiveness in the founding of HP 60 years ago.

The campaign will feature the blue HP logo with the word "invent" underneath.

Fiorina also said companies can expect to work with a reinvented HP that works differently, sounds differently and retains the best of the company, while reinventing the rest.

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