HP pushes Chinese R&D

30 June 2011

BEIJING: Hewlett-Packard, the IT specialist, believes China will become a key R&D centre for developing products and services with international potential.

The US multinational has outlined a range of initiatives aiming to boost its innovation output in the Asian country.

"China is not only a huge market, it's also a great place to develop products and develop R&D," Leo Apotheker, HP's chief executive, said.

"It is in China, for China, but also for the world because the R&D capabilities here in China, we want to leverage for other markets as well."

"In China, you can develop a certain number of technologies that are particularly well suited for other fast-developing markets that have similar characteristics."

HP's core schemes incorporate creating a Cloud Executive Briefing Center, based in Tianjin, allowing customers to gain experience of cloud computing.

Similarly, it will open a new unit, located in Beijing, tasked with finding solutions for networking and analytics.

"We already do some research in China, and we want to expand this right here in Beijing so that we can actually have even more leading-edge technology that we can drive out of China," Apotheker said.

Elsewhere, HP will consolidate its existing staff into a "campus" in Shanghai, where it is also forming a regional headquarters for its Personal Systems Group.

More broadly, the information technology group is collaborating with city authorities from Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing to help meet infrastructure, energy and healthcare needs.

"We see huge potential in China to deliver on our vision for the connected world spanning cloud and connectivity, from the consumer through to the enterprise," said Apotheker.

"Ultimately, we intend for HP to become the centre of the cloud and connectivity."

At the consumer level, rising internet penetration, and the surging uptake of Web 2.0 platforms like Renren and Sina Weibo, should fuel further growth.

HP reported that over 450m netizens are now online in China, with 64% of the digital population - featuring large numbers of young, relatively-affluent people - engaged in blogging and other such pastimes.

To attract this audience, HP has rolled out an official blog dedicated to China, alongside a variety of branded channels discussing various different subjects, and providing updates on its current activities.

"China's vibrant economy, explosive growth in social and mobile connectivity, and strong commitment to innovation present tremendous opportunities for HP," said Apotheker.

Todd Bradley, head of HP's Personal Systems Group, has formulated the company's China strategy, and suggested rural regions and cities hold considerable possibilities.

"Many of our products, PCs, and printers etc will be focused on accessing content that's on the clouds," he said.

Among HP's additional future plans include opening more customer service centres, and launching a Chinese-language version of its tablet PC, which is soon to be unveiled in the US.

It has previously announced an intention to donate 10,000 personal computers to projects in the countryside, as part of efforts to "bridge the digital divide".

The firm began operating in China during 1985, and now runs nine regional offices, and has built a presence in 7,000 retails stores in 689 cities.

Data sourced from Bloomberg/HP; additional content by Warc staff