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Could Hewlett-Packard Ever Be As Cool As Apple?

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midlife crisis (noun)
a period of emotional turmoil in middle age characterized especially by a strong desire for change

When a man hits his fifties and notices that his life is more than half over, he starts doing peculiar things. He may buy that '67 Mustang he's had his eye on for years. Maybe he'll grow out his hair, get a tattoo, and blast his old Three Dog Night albums. Sometimes, he might leave his family and leverage his life savings into wooing a gold-digger half his age.

In short, the guy wants to be cool. And the only way to bring him to his senses is to pull him aside, remind him he's 57, and tell him he looks ridiculous in cargo shorts.

And right now, someone needs to offer the same services for Hewlett-Packard CEO Léo Apotheker.

Stepping in to head HP in November, Apotheker recently gave an interview with the BBC where he expressed his excitement for the future and hyped a few surprises coming from his company this month. Apotheker also wanted a hipper image for HP -- one more in line with a certain company from Cupertino.

"I hope one day people will say 'this is as cool as HP,' not 'as cool as Apple,' " he said.


Overlooking the fact that Apple is still a multimillion, multinational corporation -- touted by accountants and soccer moms alike -- and, by definition, could never really qualify in the same category as a "Debbie Harry and the lead singer of Television hanging in the back of CBGB" cool, it'll take a lot for HP to equal the cool resulting from Apple's laborious branding effort.

Although that statement was exceptionally unnerving, Apotheker had a few other contenders for the most unsettling.

He stated HP was the only large IT company "that is equally good on the consumer side and on the commercial [enterprise] side" and "WebOS is the only phone that can truly multi-task."

Jesus. Well, sometimes a hefty amount of delusion is what one needs to actually become "cool."

Rock on, Léo.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.