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Apotheker, however, would not address specifics when
TheStreet asked about his plans during a recent conference call. "Software has been a credible part of HP's strategy to date -- it helps us differentiate our products," he said. "Make no mistake, we will also grow our standalone software business -- we will expose our IP as IP. At our March 14 event, will have ample opportunity to talk about that."
However, boosting the company's software revenue will require a major shift in HP's culture, said TBR analyst Breen.
"The biggest challenge facing Apotheker in terms of the future of the software business is teaching a hardware-centric company how to run a profitable software business -- and doing so without changing the company's business model," she explained. "HP runs a commodity business and competes on scale, not margins, which is the opposite of how software companies run."
HP will need to change its sales strategy, said Breen. "The [HP] messaging is still very complex and misleading," she told
TheStreet. "Apotheker will need to weave the story of software into the marketing, and explain how the software pieces fit together."
One thing next week's meeting will likely not focus on: Hardware products, which were highlighted last month with the launch of HP's
TouchPad and WebOS smartphone . "It is possible that HP may make some hardware and software announcement, but it is unlikely, and quite frankly, not important," said Kaushik Roy, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan. "March 14 will be about meeting the CEO in person and the strategy of the company moving forward."
In addition to Apotheker's software plans, Roy said that investors also want to hear how he can "bring back the innovation engine" to HP, as well as improve the company's services business.
"Most importantly, Leo needs to give out some metrics against which he can be measured," he added. "For instance, revenue and operating margin goals for the next year or two -- if HP doesn't give out some hard numbers against which Leo can be measured, investors may be a little disappointed."
Gleacher & Company analyst Brian Marshall agreed that new products and services are unlikely to be on the agenda, but expects Apotheker to explain how HP can boost its presence in existing markets and tap new ones.
"His biggest challenge? Getting his arms around the new businesses he has never dealt with before," explained Marshall. "[This includes] servers, networking, printers and computers."
--Written by James Rogers in New York.
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