Fiorina down on economy, up on HP

As part of its strategy for pulling out of the damaging U.S. economic slump, Hewlett-Packard Co. released a range of mobile computing products here Wednesday on the eve of the CeBIT trade show. Carly Fiorina, HP’s CEO, chairman and president, spoke somberly about the company’s recent slump while also outlining the company has a plan of action for future success.

“We are not optimistic that Europe will be immune from the economic slowdown or that there will be a quick recovery in the second half of 2001, as some had predicted,” Fiorina said during a news conference. “During this downturn, we have seen revenue growth slow from 15 per cent in 2000 to about two per cent in the first quarter this year. We are not assuming any improvement throughout the rest of the fiscal year. It is like navigating through a thick fog.”

HP’s financial year runs from November to October.

To help get through this fog; HP is planning to push consumers toward a variety of tools centred on expanding mobile computing market. In keeping with this “on-the-go” theme, the vendor launched new models of its Jornada Pocket PC handheld, a number of printers equipped with Bluetooth wireless technology and new scanning technology.

“Technology is now about fundamentally transforming how we live and work,” Fiorina said.

First up, HP unveiled two new Jornadas – the Jornada 525 color unit and the Jornada 710 device with keyboard and wireless connectivity. The 525 targets the consumer market while the 710 comes with more bells and whistles, such as a keyboard and support for GSM (global system for mobile communications) and wireless LAN (local area network) connections.

In addition to the new devices, HP also showed an accessory for the Jornada PDAs, which allows them to be used as digital cameras. The camera, which comes with a color LCD screen for reviewing photos, connects via the CompactFlash slot on the machines.

HP additionally launched a new wave of Bluetooth enabled printers. These units take advantage of Bluetooth’s ability to send information by wireless over short distances to other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The new 995C ink-jet printer can send and receive data from a PC up to 10 metres away. HP said it will make Bluetooth accessories for 900C inkjets and the 1000, 2000 and 4000 lines of LaserJet printers to give them the same Bluetooth capabilities.

HP also commissioned a number of third party vendors to begin work on Bluetooth products, which will connect cell phones, printers and PCs, the company said.

The Palo Alto, California-based vendor showed some of its scanning advances as well with the release of the Scanjet 7400 and 2200 with improved optical resolution and speed.

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at