With a disastrous year behind it, does Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) have much to look forward to next year?

Over the past 12 months, HP has had its reputation shoved into the mud, received a swift kick to its soft underside, and then pulled to its feet only to have tar poured on top of the mud and layered with feathers to boot.

Going forward, CEO Meg Whitman will have to overcome all of the company's public-perception problems while simultaneously refocusing the tech bellwether and reinstilling confidence in shareholders. She'll need to impress enterprise customers that Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) has been trying to win amid the turmoil and try to gain re-entry back into the mobile party. (One can only hope HP got its hand stamped before walking out the gate the first time).

Whitman has said the company will be "getting back to business fundamentals" and will need to "fix our execution challenges." She wants to rebuild the balance sheet, and don't expect any big mergers or acquisitions. The next year looks "tough" to her, and rightly so, as turning around a company as large as HP takes time.

She has conceded that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) may blow past HP in 2012, as the world's top PC maker but that 2013 will be HP's time to shine. If you count the iPad as a computer, the Mac maker is set to dethrone HP. With the resurrection of webOS as an open-source platform and the distinct possibility that HP will reboot tablet hardware, the company will confront Google Android tablet makers again in some form or fashion next year.

Even though Whitman nixed most of her predecessor's moves, she agrees with Leo Apotheker in that HP needs to focus more on software in the coming year, competing more directly with other enterprise-software giants such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL). She decidedly doesn't want to transform HP into a software company, as Apotheker was clearly trying to do, but rather wants to build up the software segment as a complement for customers.

Whitman has her work cut out for her but has admitted that 2012 is not the year that HP investors should be looking forward to.

The mobile revolution is going to be huge. But just because HP left early, that doesn't mean you have to miss out. We've just released a brand-new, 100% free report that details one stock that is in an enviable position powering the mobile Trillion-Dollar Revolution from the inside, while also having exposure to China's red-hot growth. I like the stock so much I've given it an outperform CAPScall. Grab the report now to find out what company I'm talking about.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.