Hewlett and Packard

The ongoing drama at Hewlett-Packard has me rapt with attention. Beyond its involvement with Mercury (which HP is in the process of buying), the corporate-spying scandal doesn’t have much immediately relevance to my own world of software development. However, it is a fascinating tale, and it’s interesting to watch it unfold.

Certainly friends who work at HP are equally focused. Morale at the company is bad, like when Carly Fiorina was laying off people left and right in the wake of the Compaq acquisition. Not good, not good at all.

Within this broad story, there’s room to enjoy what (to me) is a perennial issue: What do you call the company?

Legally, the firm keeps changing its name. It used to be the Hewlett-Packard Co. But nowadays, it’s the Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.

What about shortening the name? There we have lots of options. I use HP, as you can see. That’s also the company’s preferred usage. However, others also use H-P, H.P. or my personal favorite, simply Hewlett.

Nobody, but nobody, in the tech industry calls Hewlett-Packard, “Hewlett.” That’s reserved for out-of-touch mainstream journalism, such as the New York Times headline for today’s story about the hunt for the leaker. The Times also uses the abbreviation H.P.

The Wall Street Journal likes the abbreviation H-P, even in headlines, but calls the company Hewlett-Packard Co. on first reference within the story.

Our style at SD Times and other BZ Media publications is to follow a company’s own preferred usage, whenever possible; we only make occasional exceptions, such as when companies have gratutious punctuation as part of their name. We drop the exclamation point (which in journalism is called a “bang”) from names like Yahoo!, for example, because it’s disruptive when you’re trying to read.

But I still get a kick out of seeing the first ref to HP written as simply “Hewlett.” It always takes a moment to figure out who the NY Times is talking about. C’mon, guys. You can do better than that.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick