VentureBeat: If you think about other things that are going to push the PC forward, looking at VR and the hopes people had, what else do you see that’s on a similar scale?
Cho: We look at a few different areas of rich innovation and change. We call them opportunity experiences of the future. One is gaming of the future. We talked about gaming becoming more social, more diverse, and all the experiences moving to services.
We talk about our vision of delivering the office of the future. The office of the future will power a lot more workers who are more mobile, working from home, and a lot of gig workers. The office of the future will provide more connected environments among sites and among buildings. It will drive a lot of rich innovation around room computing.
The third area where we see a lot of excitement that will drive growth is around health care, as we mentioned, the health care of the future. As we go toward more telemedicine—I believe it was last year that the number of video consultations versus in-person in the U.S. among key health providers, that actually exceeded 50 percent. If you think about the rich computing needs in that environment, and security for all of that data, that’s very important.
We’re also investing in the education of the future. As learning experiences for K-12, as well as in higher ed, become much more immersive, that’s where our technologies around immersive computing have been a key catalyst for continuing to find new experiences for students and teachers and faculty. And finally, we also see retail. Retail is undergoing a lot of shifts. It’s no longer traditional brick and mortar. You see a lot of these omni-channel experiences, online and offline. You see the importance of data security, obviously, in stores. We introduced, earlier this year, an updated lineup of our retail point-of-sale devices.
What’s great about things like retail point-of-sale, and also some of the other areas I’ve mentioned, is the opportunity to deliver them as a service. That opens up a lot of new opportunities for us. We can take traditional transactional offerings and offer them through an analytics platform that optimizes devices and makes them more personalized, as well as more secure, for our customers. HP Device as a Service is a key platform we’ve made a lot of progress on this past year, and you’ll see a lot more for us going forward.
VentureBeat: I also wanted to ask about Z by HP, Sprout, and these other more experimental areas of expansion around the PC.
Cho: Let me talk about Z. I love our workstation business. Z is a part of our workstation business which is not experimental. It’s an important part of our overall business. We’re a leader in several segments in the workstation space, and we see the need for higher-end computing, particularly for design, continuing to grow. That’s a very important part of what we do.
We also see the whole space around machine learning continuing to be supported and enabled by our Z devices. When customers want the best performance they’re looking for workstation devices. They’re looking for HP workstations. Anything around real time rendering and computer-aided engineering. We see that our devices will be a key part of machine learning is introduced into more use cases.
Creators are an important area in this space as well. A lot of creation happens in the film industry. Motion picture studios are using HP Z workstations. We also see that continuing to grow around creativity, the more traditional creative pro, as we go forward. When I talk about VR, commercial VR, our workstation solutions will offer VR solutions. That will be powered by our Z devices.
Talking about immersive, last year we announced our HP FitStation, which uses our scanning capabilities and has integrated them into a custom shoe recommendation solution. Not only did we start there, but we extended it to custom insoles. We’re actually printing custom insoles using HP 3D printers and delivering them to our customers. That’s an exciting area where we’re using some of our more immersive capabilities as part of the broader HP portfolio. We also announced that we’ll be introducing, in 2019, not only custom shoe recommendations based on your specific scan and your gait, and not only custom insoles, but fully custom shoes. We’ll be announcing more about that later this year.
We have a lot of things we’re working on. We categorize these into core, growth, and future. Core is delivering today, and it’s the majority of what is delivered. Growth is in segments that are smaller in size, but that are rapidly accelerating. The future is areas that are farther out there. They’re more category creation. They’re exciting because we’re able to invest and work on experiences that could scale. They’ll take a bit more time, but we’re pushing the innovation envelope in order to get there.
VentureBeat: Speaking of interesting use cases, the streamers out there seem to be getting bigger and bigger. That’s becoming a pretty amazing ecosystem, where people are making money streaming their gameplay and other things.
Cho: I mentioned TwitchCon. This year was my first TwitchCon, and I was just blown away. You look at personalities like Ninja—think about these people, who are streaming Fortnite and getting viewerships–I think he’s in the 27 million range, and growing? That’s why the earlier discussion around gaming is an important one. Not only are games growing, but the entire ecosystem around them, whether it’s the devices or accessories or services. There’s streaming. There are new kinds of fans. There are events. There are personalities who are growing out of this environment.
Then you see the adoption of esports, even in education environments. In higher ed, esports is being embraced and invested in by institutions as a way to build more social connectedness. It’ll be fascinating to watch. What’s exciting about what we’re doing, we’re very much staying close to the ground and remaining connected to gamers themselves. We’re doing that in multiple geographies around the world. We’re also investing a lot in the innovations that enable not only the core experience, but the experiences around that. We’re partnering with key partners and promotional opportunities so that we can cultivate the entire ecosystem.
I’ve been very pleased so far. It’s been a very small category in the past, but it’s become one of our growth areas. It’s a material vector for us.
VentureBeat: We’ve talked about opportunities. Are there clouds on the horizon that you worry about, things that would require someone bigger than HP to clear up, like potential trade wars or anything else?
Cho: There are always things that I’ve found in this business that present a headwind. In general I’d say that the one constant is the different types of dynamics that are a part of the PC ecosystem, whether it be component availability or trade, like you said. We’re staying focused on our customers. We’re focused on managing how we navigate around those headwinds. We’ve done quite well at navigating across several headwinds in the past year. We have a variety of things we work across our end to end teams to go do that.
As we look forward, we stay focused on what we know. We’re not going to speculate on things that are outside of what’s definitive. I feel good about the focus on execution. You asked me before about what’s impressed me. One thing is just the breadth of innovations, but the other is the machinery from our supply chain to our category teams to all of how we manage the business daily. It’s truly world-class. I tend to not worry about them. We’re more focused on executing on our game.