Despite Hewlett-Packard Co.’s commitment earlier this week to keep its investments in research and development intact after the announcement of 14,500 job cuts, the company has decided to cut four research projects from its HP Labs organization, a company spokesman confirmed yesterday.
The projects include an effort to develop a next-generation operating system for the Internet, work on high-density portable storage devices and research on technologies for health and wellness, said Dave Berman, an HP spokesman. Details of the project cancellations were first reported by the San Jose Mercury News.
The company has decided to focus on research projects that have the best chances of paying off for HP in both the short and long term, Berman said. For example, HP Labs’ work on developing a new “crossbar latch” transistor design using carbon nanowires will continue, as will other projects focused on quantum computing.
HP is also changing the way its research efforts are organized. All research groups will now report to the head of HP Labs, Dick Lampman, Berman said. Previously, some of the workers at HP Labs reported directly to individual research centers, such as the Cambridge Research Laboratory in Massachusetts and the Advanced Software Research program, he said.
Some of the projects within those labs will transfer to other departments within HP Labs, along with some of the researchers, Berman said. But the heads of individual research centers, such as the Cambridge Research Laboratory, are leaving HP, he said.
HP spent about $3.5 billion on R&D in its 2004 fiscal year, according to the company’s annual report. Advanced research projects have traditionally been very important to the company, following in the footsteps of founders William Hewlett and Dave Packard. But 2004 research spending was down from the prior year, as HP struggled to generate profits across its businesses.
HP CEO Mark Hurd promised to continue spending money on research projects when he outlined his restructuring plan for the company on Tuesday, saying that HP’s work on advanced research sets its apart from its rivals in the industry.