TIME Companies

How HP Could Once Again Dominate Silicon Valley

HP has shown it can innovate — but can those innovations save the company?

Throughout Hewlett-Packard’s 48 years, it’s innovated many technologies that became commonplace: pocket calculators, laser printers. But for much of the past decade, the headlines about HP have centered on the Silicon Valley pioneer’s revolving door of CEOs, boardroom controversies and – more recently – its slow, painful turnaround.

CEO Meg Whitman has slashed 55,000 jobs in an ambitious restructuring. As the company prepares to split into two, the fruits of that effort are winning over investors who have pushed HP’s stock up 190% in the last two years — or nearly five times the Dow Jones’ rise. Throughout all of this, what HP hasn’t been portrayed as is what it was early on: an engine of innovation.

In recent months, however, new initiatives at HP have emerged to suggest that’s starting to change. In particular, HP has unveiled three innovations in printing, personal computing, and data analytics that each has the potential to influence or even reshape their respective markets. Even if that doesn’t happen, each one shows a new flair at HP to take bold new approaches in established markets.

Last month, HP announced its long-awaited entry into the 3D-printing market. While younger, smaller players like Stratasys and 3D Systems have dominated the nascent 3D-printing market early on, HP held back until it could deliver a breakthrough 3D-printing technology that could become the kind of industry standard HP has set in traditional printing. With its multi-jet fusion technology, HP seems poised to achieve just that.

Based on HP’s thermal inkjet technology – an area where HP is strong in expertise and intellectual property – multi-jet fusion promises 3D printers that offer higher resolution, lower cost and printing that the company says is 10 times faster than leading 3D printers on the market. HP’s first 3D printers will use thermoplastics, while in time HP hopes to employ metal, ceramics and other materials.

HP says it plans to make the new systems available starting next year to large and small manufacturers alike. That may seem like a late entry, but multiple analysts expect annual revenue in the 3D-printing market could rise north of $10 billion by 2020. HP says it expects its printers to be revolutionary, and some analysts agree. To persuade them, HP has a video showing how a chain link printed in less than half an hour can lift up a one-ton car.

Along with its 3D printing technology, HP also unveiled Sprout, a machine combining a PC, a projector and a 3D scanner. There’s nothing quite like Sprout on the market, and it’s hard to describe – it’s simpler just to watch a video of it – but basically the Sprout blends a tablet-like touchpad, a 14.6-megapixel camera, a projector and a scanner into a product HP calls immersive and intuitive.

Sprout is a risky product in that it sells for $1,900 at retailers like Best Buy, but it doesn’t have a pre-defined market. HP developed the idea out of an interest in bridging the physical and digital world, says spokesperson Elizabeth Pietrzak. “The target is more psychographic rather than demographic,” she says. Which means, basically, people who make things: designers, hard-core scrapbookers and school teachers, for instance.

Sprout is designed for creators who don’t have the training or the patience to use design software. HP is planning on building newer, specialized applications for markets like architectural design and health care, and it’s inviting developers to create still other applications for the platform, which HP built on Windows 8. Sprout may not end up being as disruptive as multi-jet fusion. But it shows HP is willing to innovate in areas where there is more potential than predictable outcomes – an approach that defines many startups.

Perhaps the most disruptive innovation HP is working on is something called the Machine. It’s a name at once understated and potentially pretentious, but what HP wants to do with the Machine is to create wholesale an entirely new computing architecture for the era of big data. As cloud computing and the Internet of Things demand systems that manage ever larger amounts of data, the drain on the electrical grid gets bigger.

HP’s answer is to create computing technology that can handle much more data using much less power. The Machine is being built with this goal in mind, and to reach it HP had to come up with multiple innovations: a software-defined server called Moonshot that uses 89% less energy and requires 80% less space; lasers a quarter the size of a human hair that use photonics instead of copper wires; and memristors that use ions to fuse memory and storage, making them faster and cheaper than DRAM or flash drives.

The Machine is the brainchild of HP Labs, which had earlier announced pieces of the plan, like Moonshot and memristors. In June, the company announced the Machine and discussed what may prove to be the hardest piece: an entirely new, open-source operating system. HP is also working on stripped-down versions of Linux and Android that could run the Machine on devices like smartphones.

HP expects products and services using the Machine to ship in four or five years. As with any ambitious project, the Machine faces uncertainty and questions. Will HP execute on the different pieces and integrate them into a seamless system? Will third parties embrace the Machine as a standard? Will other cash-rich tech giants build their own versions of the Machine first?

Whatever the answers to those questions, HP is showing that it’s pushing to return to its innovative roots. Earlier this month, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz talked about how big companies can innovate, arguing that the key is to have a secret insight that no one else understands, one that often comes from years of experience. HP has plenty of experience, much of it hard fought, and it’s boosted its R&D budget to 3.1% of revenue from 2.3% in 2010.

“Innovation has been a large part of our ethos over the years,” says HP’s Pietrzak. “Now we’re on a path where we can invest back in R&D.”

In Silicon Valley where young pups seem to rule, HP is an old dog, and one that has been through its share of scrapes in recent years. But it’s also showing that it can still learn some pretty intriguing tricks. And with any luck, those tricks could bring it to the forefront of tech innovation again.

TIME Workplace & Careers

7 Ways to Get Ahead at Work Before the New Year

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Coworkers in discussion at conference room table Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

7 things you must do before January

You have a little more than a month to go before the end of the year, so make the most of it. Experts say these are the important things to get done now if you want to start your career in the new year off on the right foot:

List your wins. Think of the best three things you accomplished over the last year and write them down, says career coach and personal branding strategist Pamela Weinberg. “Having these accomplishments on paper will help you to be able to better articulate your strengths when you get a review, or bonus,” she says. And if you’re looking for a new job, you’ve just written a couple of your resume bullet points.

Deliver bad news. If you manage other workers, this is the time to have any hard conversations you’ve been putting off. “Think about needed discussions with your subordinates concerning ongoing work,” says career coach Todd Dewett. “What needs to be improved that you’ve noticed but not addressed?” Be as specific as possible so the employee knows how to improve in the new year.

Brace for change. “Companies are constantly evolving,” says Margaret Spence, an expert panelist at the Society for Human Resource Management. “This work economy doesn’t allow you to be stagnant in your career.” The end of the year is a great time to look ahead and figure out what you’re going to need to know for the coming year. Is the company shifting to a new tech platform or implementing a new process? Are there any legal or regulatory changes the new year will bring that will change how you do your job? Get out in front of these changes in advance, Spence advises.

Get people’s contact info. “Get in touch with people who are leaving [or] moving to new roles,” says Patti Johnson, author of Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life. Get their personal phone number and email address so you can stay in touch, and make plans for an initial meet-up or get together now so you already have networking opportunities on your calendar for the new year.

Check in with your boss. “If you’ve signaled interest in a role shift or promotion and it’s been six months or more, it’s time to initiate conversation once again,” Dewett says. “You want to go into the new year with clarity about where to invest the bulk of your networking efforts — internally or externally.”

Plan on education. Consider your professional development and determine what skills you’ll need to make it to the next rung on the corporate ladder, Weinberg advises. Maybe a public speaking course or participation in an industry conference might give you the boost you need. “December is often a slow time business-wise so take some time to research how you might gain the skills you need to reach your 2015 career goals,” she says. Bonus: By getting a jump on this process, you won’t need to worry about a course or event selling out before you can sign up.

Say thanks. “It’s a great time to write hand-written personal notes of appreciation,” says career coach Glo Harris. She’s not referring to holiday cards, although those are important, too. The intent of this is to say thanks to standout clients, mentors and others. “Do the same with your team,” Harris says. Acknowledge what you appreciate about your colleagues — and be specific.

TIME Autos

Honda Faces a $35 Million Fine for Not Reporting U.S. Injury and Death Claims

Japan Honda Air Bag Death
A man walks past a Honda model on display at Honda Motor Co. headquarters in Tokyo on April 25, 2014. Koji Sasahara—AP

The violation could be one of the biggest in history

Honda Motor Co. could face a $35 million fine for failing to report more than 1,700 claims of death or serious injuries from the past 11 years, according to a summary of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) review.

The company said it under-reported the incidents between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2014 because of “inadvertent data entry or computer program errors,” Bloomberg News reports.

“The audit identifies difficult facts where we did not meet our obligations,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, on a conference call with reporters.

Honda reported only 1,144 serious injury claims during the period. The omissions came to light partly because of recent investigations into air-bag recalls by Takata Corp. Honda said that eight of the unreported cases involved Takata air-bag inflator ruptures and that the NHTSA was aware of them.

A former NHTSA administrator told Bloomberg that Honda will “absolutely” get a $35 million fine, which is the maximum civil penalty for violating the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act. (Car companies face $7,000 in fines per day per violation.)

“It’s quite shocking Honda would behave this way,” consumer-safety advocate Joan Claybrook said. “They’ve put their company reputation at risk.”

The NHTSA audit is ongoing.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Aviation

This Is Who Decides Whether Your Flight Takes Off This Week

Chicago's O'Hare Airport Snarled In Ground Stops After Fire At FAA Building
Passengers wait in line to reschedule flights at O'Hare International Airport on September 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Meet the Cancellator

With the rush of Thanksgiving travel and potentially bad weather, there’s a few people who will have the tougher-than-usual job this week of figuring out which unlucky flights must be cancelled this holiday season.

Meet the men and women operating the Cancellator, a computer system that decides whether or not you’ll be scrambling to make it home for Turkey Day. The Cancellator and systems like it use an algorithm with some human input to decide which flights to delay or cancel in order to preserve as much of an airline’s original schedule as possible. The program’s ultimate goal is to nix flights well ahead of time, that way airlines can notify passengers of the changes before they head out for the airport — giving customers time to make alternate plans.

Want to know more about the software and employees deciding to cancel your flight? Read TIME’s March 3, 2014 cover story on airline cancellations here.

TIME food and drink

Almost Half of Millennials Have Never Drank a Budweiser

Budweiser
Fred de Noyelle—Getty Images/Photononstop RM

The company is going on a full-court PR press to get more young drinkers

The King of Beers isn’t America’s reigning beer anymore — at least among millennials.

The flagship Budweiser beer remains popular mostly among older folks, and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is refocusing its marketing specifically on the millennial age bracket, the Wall Street Journal reports.

While Budweiser has been known for its traditional Clydesdales commercials and other touching animal-focused ads, this season the company will roll out commercials featuring people in their 20’s speaking directly to a camera about who they’d like to “grab a Bud with” this holiday season. The new millennial-focused marketing will also include parties in college towns featuring Jay-Z, who partnered with Budweiser for the annual Budweiser Made in America music festival in 2012.

Budweiser faces tough competition among craft beers when attracting the 21-t0-27 age demographic, 44% of whom haven’t tasted the beer, according to AB InBev. Budweiser’s own sister beers, like Bud Light and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, have also contributed to the flagship beer’s production to drop by over half over the last 10 years.

[Wall Street Journal]

 

 

TIME Advertising

Watch the Sexist PlayStation Ad Sony Quickly Pulled From YouTube

Perpetuating all your least favorite stereotypes

Sony quickly and quietly pulled a PlayStation ad from its European YouTube account this weekend that bears a greater resemblance to soft-core porn than it does to a commercial for a piece of hardware.

“I know you’ve already done it today, and I bet you really enjoyed yourself, ” a sexy female British doctor coos, shortly prior to climbing on top of her office desk — you know, like serious doctors often do. “How many times did you do it yesterday? Are you afraid you’re doing it too often? In your bedroom under the blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or the toilet? Or do you like it in the garden?”

The innuendo-laden ad is for a Remote Play feature rather than, well, you get the idea. While the world is used to blatantly sexist ads at this point, the Sony one is particularly depressing. And that is because, as the Verge puts it, “Sony might be trying to do a halfway good thing here.”

The ad ends with the revelation that the sexy doctor parody is actually a gamer, too. “You can even join me,” she says with a wink before pulling out her own gaming device.

But is the way to show that women also like to play video games to treat them as a sexualized fantasy for teenage boys?

While the ad is no longer on Sony’s official account, other YouTubers, however, have posted it.

Although Sony didn’t immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment, the ad does fall in line with past campaigns reportedly from 2012:

This isn’t the first video game ad that uses sexual innuendos. Business Insider references an XBox 360 ad that uses a similar “Everyone is doing it” mantra:

Somehow this new one feels different.

TIME marketing

Bud’s Iconic Clydesdales Put Out to Pasture as Jay-Z Steps In

A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston.
A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston. Bob Levey—Getty Images

Horses will be replaced by a hipper ad campaign as beer company looks to appeal to a younger crowd

Budweiser is ditching Clydesdale horses in favor of Jay-Z.

The self-styled King of Beers is reportedly reworking its marketing campaign in a bid to remain relevant as craft beers capture the attention of drinkers.

The company is looking to stem the falling sales of its title offering — and is turning to younger drinkers for its best chance, banking on a new advertising campaign to bring that strategy to the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The new commercials that focus exclusively on the 20-something age bracket this holiday season. A new ad campaign will feature young drinkers answering the question: “If you could grab a bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?”

That will lead the way for the brand’s bigger marketing push, which includes food festivals and a two-day concert in partnership with Jay Z in Philadelphia that was started in 2012.

Budweiser has faced declining demand over the past 25 years. In 1988, the brand sold about 50 million barrels, but last year that dropped to 16 million barrels, the Journal says. Part of that decline is its own brand cannibalism: Bud Light has pulled away customers from Budweiser for decades and became the nation’s No. 1 selling beer in 2001.

Budweiser’s appeal is particularly dismal among young drinkers in the U.S. Nearly 44% of drinkers aged between 21 and 27 have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD 0.52% .

If Budweiser can gain the 20-something appeal, it has access to the biggest number of new drinkers since the baby boom. The number of people turning 21 peaked in 2013 at about 4.6 million.

Clydesdales have featured in many Budweiser ad campaigns and have been associated with the beer company since 1933, when Budweiser introduced them to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition for beer, the AP said.

MONEY deals

Black Friday Is Already Here

A "Black Friday" advertisement for Walmart is seen on an iPad in Annapolis, Maryland November 16, 2014.
A "Black Friday" advertisement for Walmart is seen on an iPad in Annapolis, Maryland November 16, 2014. "Black Friday" is coming early this year to retailers. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Based on the big discounts already in effect at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Gap, Staples, and plenty of other retailers, it looks like Black Friday sales are well underway.

Many people are upset that dozens of national retailers have decided to launch Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, thereby ruining the holiday for workers who can’t spend the day with their families—and also ruining the day for families whose shopping-crazed relatives will ditch them for the chance to score cheap tablets, TVs, and fast fashion at the mall. (According to surveys, millennials are particularly likely to go shopping on Thanksgiving rather than continue hanging out at home once dinner is done.)

But based on the proliferation of broad, often substantial discounts that invoke the phrase “Black Friday” days or even a full week before the actual day arrives, it appears as if Black Friday sales are in effect right now. Deal-tracking sites such as TheBlackFriday.com have rounded up long lists of retailers that have already tried to grab shoppers’ attention by launching big holiday sales under names like “Pre-Black Friday Deals,” “Black Friday All Week Long Sale,” and “Cyber Monday Now.”

One week before Black Friday, Amazon kicked off its Black Friday Deals Week, throughout the course of which the world’s largest e-retailer is adding new deals as often as every 10 minutes. Likewise, Walmart launched a “Pre-Black Friday Event” on Friday, November 21, with lots of prices that seem on par with Black Friday’s best bargains: LED TVs for under $150, tablets starting at $40, two-packs of women’s fleece pants for $8, and so on. Similarly, Staples is trying to woo shoppers early with 50% off select merchandise and an array of quirky coupons (a flat $100 off many tablets, laptops, and desk-tops), and Target, Lowes, Sears, and many others are advertising some variation of “Pre-Black Friday” or “Black Friday Now” deals.

Some across-the-board online discounts—the kind normally offered on Cyber Monday—have also surfaced this week, such as 30% off everything at Lands’ End, on top of another 40% off shoes and slippers. On Monday, Gap introduced a sale on denim and cords for $25 and under (normally priced up to $70), on the heels of a 50% off all online purchases (for Gap card members) on Sunday.

The early sales shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the overarching trend of retailers attempting to expand the holiday shopping season and grab consumers’ limited gift-purchasing dollars before their competitors can. Kmart launched its first holiday ad in September, and many studies show that the best deals aren’t on Black Friday necessarily, but can appear weeks before or after Thanksgiving weekend, thanks to retailers’ strategic efforts to boost sales during lulls.

An Adweek story quotes several retail experts of the opinion that “Black Friday” basically occupies all of November nowadays, or at least that Black Friday-type sales appear on the scene earlier and earlier each year:

“We definitely see retailers pushing Black Friday earlier than ever,” said Sara Al-Tukhaim, director of retail insights for Kantar Retail. “This concept of Black Friday is just getting stretched out more” and becoming “more blurry.”

Bear in mind that not all of these early deals are worth getting excited about. The Disney Store rolled out what it’s calling its Black Magical Friday Sale on Friday, November 21, with discounts “up to 40% off,” but most of the deals—16″ dolls for $20 (originally $24.95), play sets from Star Wars, Monsters University, and Toy Story for $10 (originally $12.95)—seem like run-of-the-mill sales, not can’t-pass-up bargains. What’s more, some of the best early Black Friday deals seem all but impossible to buy. For example, Walmart advertised the Skylanders Trap Team Starter Kit for Wii U over the weekend priced at $37 (full price around $75), but it has been out of stock for online orders and isn’t available at most stores either.

To sum up, right now many stores have some genuinely terrific, Black Friday-esque bargains. But many of the advertised deals aren’t all that impressive, and the biggest discounts generally apply only to select merchandise and may not actually be available for purchase. In other words, retailers are already using amazing discounts and other tricks to get shoppers into stores—where the hope is that they’ll buy plenty of lightly-discounted or full-price items while they’re browsing. This is the gist of how and why retailers use Black Friday as a sales-boosting tactic in the first place, and it’s a strategy that is indeed well underway.

TIME Media

Beyoncé’s Latest Album Is Finally on Spotify

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Singer Beyoncé attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2014 Jason Merritt—Getty Images

Spotify gets a big release following Taylor Swift's exodus

It took nearly a year, but Beyoncé’s self-titled album is finally available on Spotify.

A platinum edition of Beyoncé, with six new remixes and bonus tracks, is now available on the music-streaming service. The album, released as a surprise last December, was originally only available as an iTunes exclusive but was later released on CD as well. Spotify previously only had a couple of big singles from the album available to stream.

Landing Beyoncé could help Spotify improve what’s been a very rough November. Taylor Swift removed her entire catalogue from the service while very vocally questioning whether Spotify’s model compensates artists appropriately for their work. Later, a Sony Music executive expressed doubts about Spotify’s ability to convert free users into paying customers, saying Swift’s exodus had sparked “a lot of conversation.” Spotify believes its free version is critical to eventually convincing users to purchase premium subscriptions and says its royalty payouts will continue to grow as it gains more customers.

For Beyoncé, releasing her album on Spotify could help it land higher on the album charts. Billboard just announced that it would begin including songs played on music-streaming services in its weekly album rankings. That could help Beyoncé unseat 1989, Swift’s blockbuster release that has topped the charts for three straight weeks.

TIME Media

Google Takes Over North America’s Biggest Digital Billboard

Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City.
Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

And it's even higher-res than 4K displays

The lights of Times Square just got a little bit brighter, as Google is taking over a massive new digital billboard that spans an entire city block in the heart of New York.

The new screen is more than 25,000 square feet in size and has a pixel density even greater than high-definition 4K displays. Clear Channel, the company that built the ad space, says it’s the largest digital screen in North America.

Google is taking over the space just in time for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. The search giant will use the screen to present an interactive mobile game this week in which people can “Androidify” themselves, becoming cartoon characters similar to the ones in Google’s new Android marketing campaign. Google hopes to present 25,000 personalized Android characters on the screen each day. In addition to pushing products like Android, Chrome and Nexus, Google will offer some billboard screen-time to nonprofits such as Charity Water and Khan Academy.

The new screen is located on Broadway between 45th Street and 46th Street. The price of the ad wasn’t disclosed.

 

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