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Why HP Should Sell Its PC Business To Save It

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the anywhere-but-here dept.

Businesses 221

packetrat writes "Hewlett Packard may not be in danger as a company, but its future in the PC business is in doubt, thanks to former CEO Leo Apotheker's maneuvers to turn HP into IBM. This article at Ars says Meg Whitman should go ahead and sell off the PC business — mostly because HP's management is so inept, it would likely do better without them. Agilent seems to be doing okay since it was spun off in 1999, but HP may have spun off its soul in the process."

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To maximize shareholder value... (4, Interesting)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 3 years ago | (#37670846)

They should just concentrate on the one really profitable thing they do - making ink.

Or they should just sell off their assets, and then pay the shareholders off.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671132)

They should pay the shareholders with their own manufactured ink.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 years ago | (#37671432)

This is interesting and you make a good point there. From a pure number crunching perspective, they should sell their PC division. This is just because they lack vision, innovation and general guidance. This happens all the time when you put a shitty MBA at the top of a company that only understands profits.

Look at Apple. They had a visionary CEO, they are worth 10 times HP even though they move 10 times less PCs. They are gaining marketshare when HP is losing. They were successful at smartphones when HP failed miserably. Several times. They sold tablets like hotcakes where HP tried for 10 years, not even selling as many tablets as Apple on their opening day.

Go ahead, put another accountant up there, sell your PC division. Hopefully, as much as anyone hates Apple, they'll be the only american company left that knows how to build a PC.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671732)

More to the point, HP doesn't innovate, they just make junk for desktops, and worse laptops. The only systems that might be decent are the servers. But if HP wants to be IBM, they'd be keeping the servers.

See here's the problem, and this is coming from having to service the damned things...
- Every laptop has a unique power connector... they can't standardize on one.
- Every laptop configuration is a different model number. This isn't a simple Pontiac, Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Oldsmobile rebranding the same equipment, by they physically make even the most identical machines with different models.
- Like above, every desktop configuration is a different model number.

That's the problem, customers are bombarded with ads for dozens of identical-looking models that not even the sales people at best buy really know the difference between 350$ models. They need to pare down and do exactly what Apple is doing, release exactly 3 models. Make the Student, Business and Gamer base model and drop the rest. The configurations should have a basic configuration that is the most power efficient and point out in the build option the cost/power trade-off to change it. Hell, if Dell and HP would pare down the number of stupid configurations they have, they could probably force Intel into better discounts by not buying any of the CPU SKU's in bulk except for the most power efficient one. Then revise every 6 months (Spring 2011 model, Fall 2011 model.)

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (0)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 3 years ago | (#37672176)

Apparently, you niggers forgot CONVEX. Douche bags!!!

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (0)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 years ago | (#37672218)

Hu hu hu hu, cretin.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (0)

MichaelKristopeit421 (2018882) | about 3 years ago | (#37672484)

you're an idiot.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | about 3 years ago | (#37672890)

I don't know about paring down to just 3 models, but the concept sounds a lot less confusing to me than the current state of affairs. To top it off, model numbers should all begin with the year and month of introduction, not unlike Ubuntu releases.

It's not that they lack vision (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 years ago | (#37671896)

In the PC space there is no road to real innovation. Operating margins are 5 percent at best, in a good year. You cannot differentiate with your prime products because another company owns the entire user experience. One failed product and you've left the shareholders with no profits at all. And if you experiment with new ways of doing things like Android on ARM Microsoft is going to pull your co-marketing dollars and leave you with no profits at all and no hope of getting any. The path is really just not there.

Apple did it, but look how: they built their own brand and earned a brand premium through differentiation and outstanding design. With those premiums they invested in innovation without being sucked into the trap of surrendering the user experience. With each new thing they could charge more and better premiums until they could reach escape velocity with an ecosystem that's uniquely theirs.

No PC OEM can pull that off without letting go of those no-margin PC revenues. No doubt it's a tough sell to the shareholders and the board. But it's the right thing to do. Ultimately HP cut the chains it or we'll get our innovation from new players like Samsung, HTC and so on rather than traditional PC OEMs. We've seen the future, and it ain't this.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (3, Funny)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 3 years ago | (#37671944)

Hopefully, as much as anyone hates Apple, they'll be the only american company left that knows how to build a PC.

Relevant [theonion.com]

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

MichaelKristopeit422 (2018884) | about 3 years ago | (#37672494)

you're an idiot.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (2)

lucm (889690) | about 3 years ago | (#37672742)

> they are worth 10 times HP even though they move 10 times less PCs

You talk about crunching numbers but maybe your calculator is broken. Apple market cap may be 10x bigger but it does not mean the company is "worth" 10x more. It just means that people are comfortable paying a lot of money for stock that has a book per share value of 20% (compared to +70% for HP).

If you want to use "market cap" and "value" as synonyms, basically you can only talk about Berkshire-Hathaway (Warren Buffet) because it's the only company that steadily trade at its real value.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 3 years ago | (#37673170)

Apple has 80bn in cash. Probably a bit more now. That alone is about 20-25% of their market cap. That is a pretty hot commodity right now. Apple is Intel's worst nightmare. That money makes them own. A lot. They can do thing other companies can only dream of. They can lock out entire production lines. They can invest in their suppliers in return for exclusivity, without necessarily incurring the risk.

And did I mention that they have 3 really hot product lines (Macs, iPads and iPhone) and one that is still doing brilliantly (iPods).

HP has a market cap of 51bn. apple could buy them for cash, and have lots of change left over (on the order of 40bn next time they report).

They are the only American computer company that is growing right now.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37671180)

There are thousands of ink recipes out there, many much more stable than modern inks. There are also hundreds of ink cartridge vendors out there - modern inks may be naff but there's a lot of people selling the stuff.

If HP wants to survive, it certainly needs to concentrate on core products but it also has to diversify. Having said that, diversifying into areas HP aren't very good at doesn't help HP.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 3 years ago | (#37671340)

As consumers got sick of paying $50 to refill their $100 printer once every 3 months, wal greens started doing refillable cartridges, it's been all downhill from there for the ink industry and their fine and just pricing.

On that note I could care less what happens to a soulless corporation, there may be job loss yes, but somebody with better marketing will come and take their place (never liked HP advertising).

Isn't it all about what's on the TV anyways right slashdot?

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (2)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | about 3 years ago | (#37671684)

The phrase you were looking for was "I couldn't care less..." not "I could care less..."

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (-1, Flamebait)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 3 years ago | (#37672110)

Actually I was looking for the phrase "go f yourself" Mr. wannabe royalty nazi.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37672156)

If you're a programmer your response makes me wonder what you say to the compiler.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

babywhiz (781786) | about 3 years ago | (#37671854)

From a corporate standpoint that doesn't use ink, but toner, it's a no brainer to get only HP toner. I'm sorry, but all that off-shoot/refurb/refill stuff doesn't cut it. We tried it once as a cost cutting measure. After 2 ruined printers, 3x the amount of toner had to purchase, and more IT man hours in dusting out the printers since the toner leaked everywhere.....we didn't save anything on off brand toner.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 3 years ago | (#37672082)

Ours works fine at my fine corporate job with all you fine people w a different face and the same attitude, we always get refurbs, if only the copier trays worked so well, fuckers never heard of metal gears vs plastic.

What u should do is...

a. get a printer tech who doesn't bitch about his/her job.
b. get a printer contractor that maintains and charges u per page rather than doing it yourself or hiring the often times more expensive printer tech.

I guess a little thought goes a long way in IT.

Back to the consumer market though, they definitely cut it, i'm never paying $50 for ink again, if it explodes on me, oh well, I won't clean more than I have to, which isn't that much when it comes down to it on a consumer grade printer (I wouldn't be the first consumer to blow up an ink cartridge).

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 years ago | (#37671738)

HP used to do one thing. Engineering equipment like scopes and test tools and calculators. Then they added printers. Then they added PCs. Then they spun off their core being into Agilent. What's left behind at HP is not HP. Don't remember when they added workstations and minicomputers to the mix, but they aren't doing PA-RISC systems anymore.

Re:To maximize shareholder value... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37671862)

I wonder if there is a significant market for retro test equipment. With real, quality buttons and switches. And green high persistence phosphors. And RS-232 ports. And tubes (er, valves for you strange people that drive on the wrong side of the road).

Just think, your results would be so much warmer.

Nurse says it's nap time. Gotta go.

HP == Radioactive (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#37672718)

HP name becoming radioactive.

HP used to be a quality brand, but that was at least a decade ago.

Now they represent overpriced ink, _crap_ PC clones and laptops and gross mismanagement.

Acquiring EDS only adds another horrible reputation to the pot. Perhaps they should buy the ghost of Packard-Bell to further enhance their image? SAIC? The 'Church' of Scientology? (I hear it's going cheap)

They shouldn't spin off their PC business, it is crap. They should spinoff their server business (and any other business still delivering anything like good quality) before the corporate reputation drags everything down.

Hire someone who knows what they are doing? (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about 3 years ago | (#37671998)

Maybe, just maybe, they hire someone who knows what theyre doing with the PC business, and give customers good options...

Re:Hire someone who knows what they are doing? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 3 years ago | (#37672526)

Hails of derisive laughter, Bruce!!!!

Oh wait... you were SERIOUS????

HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (5, Insightful)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 3 years ago | (#37670850)

It's soul was eaten by Carly.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | about 3 years ago | (#37671078)

It's soul was eaten by Carly.

Some will consider you flippant or flamebait, but I think you've spoke more truth than you'll get credit for. The leader's personality percolates and pervades through an organization, driving out (directly and indirectly) those not orthogonal to it. HP had a different personality after her tenure than it did before.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#37671192)

Someone should write a paper or a book about the destruction of American business by the MBA.
Really is it logical that a computer companies top person isn't an EE?
Is it logical that a software companies top person isn't a programmer?
Is it logical that a car companies top person isn't a automotive engineer?

At some point we have let the clerical staff take over the nation.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (5, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | about 3 years ago | (#37671316)

Someone should write a paper or a book about the destruction of American business by the MBA.

My brother could contribute to the project. He was a pedigreed professor of finance who could teach anywhere he chose. After a few years he was offered tenure. He realized then that his job had become the mass-production of MBAs, very very few of whom were at all receptive to the most crucial idea he tried to impart to them: you should make money, not merely get money.

Seeing then that the fruit of his labors were ruining our society, he quit to start over becoming a EE. I admire him for that.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671378)

Seeing then that the fruit of his labors were ruining our society, he quit to start over becoming a EE.

Seems to me he finally took his own advice. Training MBA's was just getting money from them, not making any thing of value.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (4, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 3 years ago | (#37671338)

That book exists: "Managers, not MBAs" [amazon.com] , by Henry Mintzberg. Well worth a read... and rather than a baseless rant, it's a well-argued book written by someone in the know.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671396)

Designing a product != managing people.

The higher up you go, the less of the former and more of the latter.

By the end, it's all about managing other people, talking to shareholders, working with the other board members, etc...

A good engineer/programmer/etc would HATE being forced to only manage people. And they would likely do a piss poor job of it.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (4, Interesting)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 3 years ago | (#37671504)

Someone should write a paper or a book about the destruction of American business by the MBA.

I'd read this book, and hope one of the case studies would be about Border Books, a fantastic company of the '80s and early '90s. Then the creators and early executives left and the whole board was taken over by MBAs who had never worked in a bookstore, had no idea why Borders was superior to (or even different from) Barnes & Noble, and didn't understand anything about how the internet was changing retail.

Then the company died.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671598)

What did people expect when execs compensation packages have loads on stock options and the bonuses for everyone in management is tied to quarterly stock prices?

Yes, it's logical that the top person in a computer company isn't an EE. It doesn't take a car guy to run a car company, look at what Alan Mulally has done for Ford. You just need to be able to grasp the trends of the industry and your organization's core competencies. Then it is about being able to lead your organization in to the future without having to slash and burn everything.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 3 years ago | (#37672376)

While it's true Alan Mulally isn't a "car guy," he's not exactly an MBA either. He started out as an engineer making airplanes for Boeing and migrated up to management. He could very easily have been a 'car guy' if he wasn't a 'plane guy.'

Let's put it this way: I'd trust Alan Mulally to work on my car. I wouldn't trust Meg Whitman within a country mile of my PC.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37672782)

Ford was doing really good, until they adopted the idiotic "MyFordTouch" system to replace all physical controls with a single touchscreen. That one move caused them to drop from near the top of the JD Power ratings to near the bottom. It doesn't matter how good the rest of your car is if you have to mess around with some stupid touchscreen just to change the radio volume or change the fan speed.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

1729 (581437) | about 3 years ago | (#37671910)

There's a new book called "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters" that might be what you're asking for:

http://www.amazon.com/Car-Guys-vs-Bean-Counters/dp/1591844002 [amazon.com]

I haven't read it yet, but the reviews I've seen were positive.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

Alomex (148003) | about 3 years ago | (#37672390)

Someone should write a paper or a book about the destruction of American business by the MBA.

My experience is that nowadays all MBAs know is how to reduce costs and thus move your product downmarket. They can talk for hours about how to save 5 cents in shipping costs, but have no idea how to produce a superior product that would allow you to double your price and people happily dole out the cash (apropos of Apple and the late Steve Jobs).

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672634)

Not just business, but also government has been destroyed by MBA.

Re:HP Didn't Spin Off Its Soul (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 3 years ago | (#37671628)

It certainly took a hit from Carly, but it's real problem has been the board of directors ever since.

The morons didn't even INTERVIEW Apotheker before they hired him. They didn't even look into his reason for leaving(actually being canned) by SAP.

They are continuously at odds and busy with infighting rather than running the company. Meg (who was one of those morons on the board) is going to continue with the insane plans Leo got the axe for coming up with. That's insane.

The investors need to clean house of the entire board of directors and get in some folks who get along, have a plan, and know what the hell they are doing.

Who cares and why? (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37670938)

Good HP is long dead.

New HP deserves death.

None of this is news.

Re:Who cares and why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671026)

Linux will miss their contributions.

Re:Who cares and why? (2)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37671282)

I'm not certain on that. HP produced a pluggable hierarchical scheduler for Linux and a clustering patch. Neither were adopted. Neither were even that widely used. If there's more than a dozen Slashdot readers who even knew these products existed, I'd be amazed.

I'm not saying the contributions were poor. Quite the opposite. I liked their scheduler patch. It was absolutely wonderful if you wanted to do any kind of research into the dynamics of that part of kernel operations. The potential for teaching OS theory was obvious. It also meant you could tweak the dynamics to suit the workloads.

What I am saying is that if HP produced a whole bunch of patches almost nobody knew existed, almost nobody is going to miss them not being there.

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 3 years ago | (#37671652)

I liked their scheduler patch.

On that... I admit I don't understand a whole lot about it; but I remember reading about this on /. and other coagulations of news. The gist was that the current state of linux threading was badly in need of a re-design and that this patch was the ticket, or at least a viable contender. Wtf happened with that? Why did the linux gods reject the deal?

Re:Who cares and why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671140)

New HP deserves death.

As an HP employee, I guess I should er, thanks I guess?

No seriously, why does "New HP" deserve to die? We still do some pretty cool things.

Re:Who cares and why? (2)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#37671250)

New HP deserves death.

As an HP employee, I guess I should er, thanks I guess?

No seriously, why does "New HP" deserve to die? We still do some pretty cool things.

Crippling inkjets and holding the ink to ransom is not cool dude. Die, you evil turkeys! Die!!!

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 3 years ago | (#37671436)

New HP deserves death.

As an HP employee, I guess I should er, thanks I guess?

No seriously, why does "New HP" deserve to die? We still do some pretty cool things.

Crippling inkjets and holding the ink to ransom is not cool dude. Die, you evil turkeys! Die!!!

But, in defense of New HP, isn't that the same as Old HP?

And it might be annoying, but it's not that important. There are lots of competitors, and the (especially consumer) printing business is not as important as it was 10 years ago.

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 years ago | (#37671960)

Get a laser printer, tightwad.

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#37671278)

Most likely a sheep swayed by listening to someone else complain about something and they took it to heart. It's usually just a good idea to ignore those type of people who can't offer anything to substantiate their opinions.

HP Printers... (1)

codegen (103601) | about 3 years ago | (#37671424)

... have gone way down in quality. It *used* to be the safe thing to buy especially if you are running a linux research lab at a university. Most universities require you to buy from recognized suppliers, with a preference for the campus computer store. Most of the other purchases are for windows, and the few linux labs, usually in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and occasionally Physics have to figure out. HP printers use to be the safe bet. They ran their own brand of postscript, but by and large they worked. Now, its a crapshoot. I made the mistake of buying two 1606dn for the lab. We barely got them to work and half the functionality is missing. We can only set the duplex options on the main printer preference page, and it often prints multiple test pages after each print job.

Re:Who cares and why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671472)

The problem is, nobody cares... And why should we? HP is giving us nothing to care about. Who cares about printers? About 13 in a dozen notebooks, desktops, servers and switches? And why should we care about EDS amongst all the other second-grade overpriced enterprise integrators?

The cool things that HP does now and then get lost in the total lack of focus. Nobody knows anymore what HP is actually about... About 15 years ago, if you called HP most people would have guessed: PRINTERS and ink... After they acquired Compaq, it was Printers, Ink and Computers. Of course, they also built some decent servers and switches. HP was a quality brand, comparable with IBM or Cisco. You wouldn't get fired for buying HP...

But, the company did nothing to leverage its fast potential here... What did they do? They bought EDS, yes, one of that bulky 13-in-a-dozen, oversized, overpriced integrators that nobody likes. Why? They want to be more like IBM... Because, enterprise and government, that's where it's at.

In the meantime, they continue to sell desktop, notebooks, printers and servers that are nothing special. Now with desktop computing and printing slowly but steadily going the way of the dodo their PC business is slowly facing extinction. Probably in some fit of madness, Mark Hurd might have recognized all this and bought Palm as a last ditch effort for the way into the future, only to have it killed by incompetence and lack of focus.

So, maybe, after all, it would be better to split off the PC business into a seperate company. A company that has the opportunity to innovate beyond the known form factors, a company with a clear focus and a future... In this specific case, the sum of all parts might be worth more than the whole itself...

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#37671750)

They bought EDS for the market presence.

There is only one thing EDS is good at. Selling hot steaming bullshit to fortune 500s and governments for truly insane prices.

There is nice steady cash flow in it. But EDS is like a life insurance company. Sure they have computer people, but the place is run by and for the sales people.

Re:Who cares and why? (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#37671168)

It's like someone who got blasted with a couple Sieverts worth of radiation all at once. They're sick for a while, then everything seems to get better for a while, but everyone knows it won't be long until their hemorrhaging out every orifice and on the way to being dead. Seriously though, when did the exposure occur? What, if anything, was the event that signaled HP's eventual demise as the company we know today? I think most of us agree that it's going to happen, I'm just curious what the point of no return was.

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 3 years ago | (#37671448)

Carly.

Re:Who cares and why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671454)

Reducing spending on Research and Development, you get better profit in the short term but in the long term the company is toast. Unless you simply buy and equivalent quantity of firms with new ideas to make up... not the most efficient method.

Re:Who cares and why? (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | about 3 years ago | (#37672264)

Good HP is long dead.

New HP deserves death.

None of this is news.

and Compaq and DEC and anything else that isn't a printer or oscilloscope

Why Sell (1)

glorybe (946151) | about 3 years ago | (#37670952)

If the corporate management is really the issue simply establish a separate management that is on its own but with the ability to continue to return high earnings? You shoot the general but do not sell the troops. The real issue will be what will computers look like and behave like in the future. The chances are the next big thing is not before us quite yet. Smarter and more powerful devices will exist but somehow they just won't be quite what we anticipate. Operating systems and software will be far more valuable as proliferation of diversified hardware expands.

Agilent's success (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671056)

Agilent seems to be doing okay? How many businesses has Agilent sold off? How has Agilent done with respect to holding on to market share? I work with several former Agilent employees. Perhaps my view (as a former HP employee myself) is a bit skewed, but I would not say Agilent has done 'ok' since being spun off of HP.

As far as HP spinning off its PC business, I think as long as it is profitable it is worth hanging on to. As many analysts have said HP has benefits with regard to supply chain management and costs for its server business when it comes to component sharing with PCs. There are other benefits for sales and support to both servers and PCs being in the same company. Spinning off PCs would not necessarily help servers and would lose some momentum for PCs.

Just because the PC organization is successful right now does not mean it would be successful if spun out. See Agilent.

HP Problem is the Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671114)

HP crisis seems to be a more of a media invented problem that affected the Wall Street perception. sure.. HP board had made dumb things too. You don't announce that it may be an spin off or not.. you just do it and report that you did it. The media posted stupid things all days, like if HP was a dying company that is going to be bought by any other company.. that's not possible right now. The HP management did stupid things.. how it is possible that Tod Bradley got out to the press to say that he wanted to lead the spin off.. to make public political preasure???' WTF The only thing good that Meg Whitman is doing is making their stupid management to stop saying dumb things to the press. She must remove the Mark Hurd circle from HP and put decent management that she can "MANAGE".

HP's management seems confused (2)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 years ago | (#37671136)

If you still have to ask the question of what to do with the PC business despite being the market leader globally in PC sales, then get out now and sell the division to someone who cares.

Yeah, if the global market leader isn't sure about the business, then they really should sell it to someone who actually cares about the business and will grow it. Indecisive waffling is not good for any business.

HP hardware is not what it used to be anyhow. Noisiest freakn' servers on the planet. You'd swear they go out of their way to find extra-noisy turbo-whine fans for their rack mount hardware.

Re:HP's management seems confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671412)

Not sure which servers you've been buying, but the newer generations are pretty quiet. The DL G3 series fans sounded like a car wash dryer. The new G7's are whisper quiet, especially since they don't run at 100% all the time.

Re:HP's management seems confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37671774)

What part of the PC acronym means "server"?

At any rate, having worked in data centers for the last 10 years, I can attest to how noisy these machines can be, however they weren't meant to be sitting under a desk ;) The latest gen 7 HP server systems are much quieter than the old ones and almost all the DL series have been considerably quieter than any comperable SGI/Rackable and Dell server in terms of noise...

Enterprise Company vs. Mass Consumer Company (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | about 3 years ago | (#37671208)

This seems to be the problem. An enterprise business focused company seems to suck in the consumer market. A Consumer market company have hard times to get into enterprise environments. So, can a balance be created? ...do you want to help companies make money? or do you want to take the money from teenagers and college students while they said WOW when seeing you product? can you do both?

Didnt work out well for IBM's products (4, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | about 3 years ago | (#37671236)

After IBM PCD was sold off to Lenovo, the quality has decreased.

Their well-known Thinkpad product line transitioned from a no compromise option to a lesser product. First, the high-quality Flexview displays went. Next was any non-widescreen display, followed by the split into the current models seen today. In trying to globalize a US brand, they killed what made the Thinkpads unique - being able to pay a good amount of money, and get a no-nonsense, no-compromise product.

As for HP:
The damage at HP was done during Fiorina's time. You want to blame anyone, you pin it on her. Not Hurd, or Apotheker.

Engineering a product for the Third World and then simply changing the product manuals/power plugs for the First World always results in an inferior product. Selling it off to an interest in the Third World guarantees this outcome.

Re:Didnt work out well for IBM's products (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37671398)

IBM gained by dumping the Thinkpad line. It's a Lenovo problem now.

What happens to something after you dump it doesn't matter, because you got rid of the problem before it happened.

Products don't matter, profit matters and much as I like old HP test equipment and old Thinkpads, neither company OWES me those things.

Myopic thinking with a long-term guaranteed loss. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 3 years ago | (#37671626)

By your logic, you'd be fine if everyone sold junk - even if it meant there was no alternative.

That's the way you kill products and companies, especially Thinkpads.

Re:Myopic thinking with a long-term guaranteed los (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672876)

There is no alternate universe where the bottom doesn't fall out of the generic PC market and kill the quality of all IBM and HP PC's, should they still be making them. That is a fact of life that IBM and HP had to deal with in their own way. IBM spun off their PC's and HP kept them and ran them into the ground. In both cases, quality went down. It was always going to go down. You can't go from an average sales price of around $1000 to an average sales price of around $500 without losing quality.

People used to say that if Apple were to make Intel PC's they would crush the Windows PC makers. Well, Apple started making Intel PC's in 2006 and they crushed the Windows PC makers, who all had to run down to the $500 low-end market to survive. People used to say that if Apple were to make a $500 low-end PC, they would crush the Windows PC makers. Well, in 2010, Apple started making a $500 low-end PC and they crushed the Windows PC makers. ALL Windows PC makers. Doesn't matter what brand is on the Windows PC. Whether at IBM or Lenovo, whether at HP or a spin-off, the market is what matters. If the market won't support building a quality PC, you have to build junk. If you build junk, that reflects on your other businesses and your brand. So HP either has to become a junk brand or get out of PC's. Since they make most of their money on something other than PC's, get out! Get out now. Get out 5 years ago!

Re:Didnt work out well for IBM's products (1)

subreality (157447) | about 3 years ago | (#37672096)

I understand, but this article was about a way to save HP's computers, not trying to save HP.

Of course, unlike the ThinkPad, I'm not sure why people would care about saving HP's PCs. ThinkPads were top-shelf; Compaq/HP was decent midrange, but never standout.

Re:Didnt work out well for IBM's products (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 3 years ago | (#37671520)

After IBM PCD was sold off to Lenovo, the quality has decreased.

Their well-known Thinkpad product line transitioned from a no compromise option to a lesser product. First, the high-quality Flexview displays went. Next was any non-widescreen display, followed by the split into the current models seen today. In trying to globalize a US brand, they killed what made the Thinkpads unique - being able to pay a good amount of money, and get a no-nonsense, no-compromise product.

The difference is that you could literally bash a DV9000 to pieces with an old Thinkpad and the Thinkpad would probably still work.

Re:Didnt work out well for IBM's products (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672734)

The quality would have gone down at IBM also. You can't get blood from a stone. The Windows PC market is running at an average sales price of $450. You can't build a quality PC for that price. That is actually cheaper than the original iPod from 2001, which in 2011 dollars is about $500.

Re:Didnt work out well for IBM's products (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37672956)

Depends what line your dealing with. I've got an x120e and I don't see anything about it that's low quality, it was rather expensive compared to some of the competitors, but it's just a well engineered machine. A really good keyboard for the type, nice screen, good battery life and I rarely if ever find myself waiting for things to load despite it using a 1.6ghz dual core processor.

perfect match (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 3 years ago | (#37671274)

HP and Netflix really ought to merge. After spinning off the PC division.

Re:perfect match (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 3 years ago | (#37672704)

And DVDs.

PCs are a global commodity (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 years ago | (#37671456)

Aside from the likes of Intel and AMD, PCs are a commodity. There is *zero* profit to building a PC in the US unless it's a rare custom gaming or workstation rig. In fact, some say that Dell loses money on every PC and laptop sold, but make up for it in extended warranty plans and accessories. That's how bad selling a PC in America has become. PCs are cheap, easy to build, and with crap quality that most companies and users could give two-shits about. In fact, it's far easier to throw away that disposable computer when it gets infected with a virus. Hell, throw it away when the user becomes frustrated. So cheap that user aggravation is a good enough motivator to buy another (the messed up their local profile for example) and get a hardware upgrade in the process.

And don't get me started on the cost of PC support. Even Comcast will provide cleanup services for a low monthly fee. The days of a mom and pop computer shop are long over. Those that remain don't even know their number is up. Quite a relic.

Re:PCs are a global commodity (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 3 years ago | (#37671846)

I think that part of the problem in the PC market is a lack of strong brands. People might pay extra for a good looking, well built and quiet desktop PC, or a durable, powerful laptop with good battery life, but which brand would you turn to? Some of the more expensive ones are just as crap as the cheap ones, and in the past few years there hasnt been any one brand of PCs that I'd trust.

Strong brands do work. Look at Apple. With Apple you pay top dollar for good design and good quality (even if they are not always without flaws, take the iPhone 4 with its poor antenna). Just physically picking up any other brand of phone will instantly reveal the difference... That is a feeling I haven't gotten with any PC maker recently, the feeling that love and dedication have gone into the design and build. And no, Alienware doesn't count; to me they've been the Bose of PCs: better than average but way overpriced.

Re:PCs are a global commodity (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 years ago | (#37672512)

My dead Mini and my wounded one beg to differ.

Looking good is no substitute for working well, being well equipped, or being durable.

Re:PCs are a global commodity (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672974)

Apple leads in all PC quality surveys, as well as all PC customer service surveys. If you are too stupid to work the Genius Bar and AppleCare ($149 for years 2 and 3 on a mini) then maybe you *should* buy from HP.

Re:PCs are a global commodity (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672920)

The iPhone 4 does not have a poor antenna any more than the earth is flat or President Obama is a socialist.

Re:PCs are a global commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37672216)

I live in a town with 3 mom and pop computer/cellphone dealers. and no corporate owned anything except the wal-mart, a local grocery chain, and a few fastfoods. there is a huge strip of mom and pop stores mom and pop eateries and bars...

Perfect oportunity for Dell (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 3 years ago | (#37671510)

How long will it take Dell to screw it up?

Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

NZheretic (23872) | about 3 years ago | (#37671704)

This may be a great opportunity for Google to acquire a corporate brand and a large patent portfolio for its Chromebook for the enterprise.

Makes as much sense as Google acquiring Motorola for the same platform and patents for android.

I would like to see HP/Google enterprise hosted google apps appliances hooked up to Chromebooks as a replacement for the Microsoft Quagmire.

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 years ago | (#37672054)

Don't know how well Google would take to being the world's largest manufacturer of Windows PCs - the software is banned on their network. Besides, Lenovo's done so poorly with IBM's PC biz their market cap is only $6.5B. Google could pick that up for less than they paid for Moto Mobility. Lenovo's probably big enough for Google - they don't have to go all the way to HP's scale. Asustek would be an even cheaper $5B and a better fit as they already make the best Android tablet.

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

NZheretic (23872) | about 3 years ago | (#37672276)

Do you expect Google/Motorola to sell Microsoft Phones? no.

Why should Google/HP sell Microsoft Windows PCs?

Just sell the hardware with Linux Distros, Chromebooks, or sell the hardware no operating system installed to organizations with corporate licences. They could even farm out the Windows drivers and support to a third company.

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 years ago | (#37672654)

It's not easy to scale an operation the size of HP's PC setup down to something on the scale you might expect to move that sort of gear just yet. If you're buying an org, you should buy one closer to the right size for what you want to do and build it with demand. "Don't be evil" includes little stuff like "don't buy a massive global corporation and throw 90 percent of its employees out of work as you part it out for scrap."

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#37672802)

Better yet they could flip MS the bird and sell only 'naked' PCs.

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37673010)

Yeah, the only logical buyer for HP's PC business is the company that should have owned it all along: Microsoft.

Re:Google Should Buy it for Corporate Chromebook (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37672994)

Google is 75% Mac users, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt. Chrome OS is not even close to a replacement for Mac OS X. Chrome OS does not even replace iOS yet.

Memristors (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 3 years ago | (#37671746)

Memristors alone will make HP hugely profitable from licensing. Memristors will likely be the great computing discovery of the next decade or two.

Re:Memristors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37672182)

I wish I had mod points.

Re:Memristors (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37672214)

Only if HP actually does something with them. The way that company's been going, I expect that actual innovations using memristors will be accomplished by other parties, and HP will just play patent troll and either extract licensing fees or try to block superior products from reaching the market at all.

Re:Memristors (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#37673076)

that's wht "from licensing" means.

There is life after HP (1)

WaxParadigm (311909) | about 3 years ago | (#37671848)

I work for a company that was spun off by HP then spun off by that resulting company. Twice removed we are now doing quite well. You lose the benefits and negatives that come with being part of a large company...but the net result can be positive. HP has become a REALLY large company, even since I left there 3.5 years ago (for their twice-emancipated child). I think it is very possible that HP is too large (both in scope of products/services and number of people) to be effectively managed by a single CEO + management team...and that is one of the underlying causes of the turmoil seen for the past decade. In that respect it does make sense to spin off the PC business.

HP's size and structure is also inhibiting to some types of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. HP had this online backup solution (I think called "HP Upstart") that was the result of buying/integrating a start-up in that space. They wanted to grow it and make it into a large offering for consumers, enterprise customers, etc. Problem is it is simply not possible to create a profitable online backup service when forced to do things the standard way in HP DataCenters which makes your cost significantly higher than the price folks like BackBlaze charge (while being profitable).

Tptally stupid (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 years ago | (#37671880)

Their PC division is their number one cash cow. Things maybe razor thin for retailers but certainly HP. Notice how an $10 ram upgrade costs $50 when ordering? Or how they can give a 50% discount on corporate desktops when asked?

Their PC brand is their number one asset after they sold the rest of their profitable crap to agelient or whatever the name of that company is called. You always focus on your strengths and never deviate in another area if you want to survive by dumping the former.

They invested the costs and it is time to raise their prices after buying Compaq. You can't keep buying assets and selling them at a loss. To me this is no different than Walmart selling its store operations to focus on auto making or bringing in Bryers CEO to Yahoo so they can make ice cream. Its stupid and not what the companies do nor are its strengths. If they want to get into services do that but do not sell your cash cow or your image. No one in business will want to touch your stuff again otherwise

Probably won't sell, more like split off (1)

CHK6 (583097) | about 3 years ago | (#37671912)

The HP board is more than likely to detach the PC business unit as a separate business using the HP branding name. The return on investment of a sell off doesn't make much sense. Basically this would make HP corporate a venture capitalist with it's own spin-off. When IBM sold off their PC division the IBM Touchpad was never the same and part of that was branding. HP's brand is still far ahead of the game of Dell, Acer, Gateway, and the mix.

What's sad is, that HP burned WebOS in the cradle. But that's because the HP board members are not technologists, engineers, or visionaries. They are MBA bean counters. When was the last great new product build by a MBA? I cannot think of one.

Re:Probably won't sell, more like split off (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#37673038)

HP killed TouchPad by not making their own software for the 10 years previous. They can't correct for the fact that they put their balls into Microsoft's hands by putting WebKit and Linux on some ARM hardware. They just simply did not have enough software to compete with Apple and Microsoft at their own games.

I won't miss H-P. (1)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 3 years ago | (#37672208)

The printer-before-last was an H-P color printer with expensive cartridges; never again.

The scanner I bought for work was an H-P scanner. In all my years of buying computers and peripherals for work and for my own use, it was, by far, the most worthless piece of crap I ever saw! Never again.

I won't miss you, H-P.

Agilent is not exactly a beacon... (2)

Moof123 (1292134) | about 3 years ago | (#37672716)

I'd hardly say that Agilent is a good example to raise. They are seriously mismanaged, and simply are tied to a business with a much longer product cycle. It has taken more years for them to reach the same level of apparent rot, but only because instruments have a 10-20 product life, while computers have a 0.5-1 year product life. Agilent has had to resort to re-badging their PXI instruments from their rivals (i.e. they buy their PXI 26.5 GHz spectrum analyzer from Phase Matrix, who is now owned by National Instruments). The place has driven off or laid off most of its key talent. Agilent is a festering hulk, it it just not quite as bad as HP is.

Aglilent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37672924)

One of their biggest revenue centers is contracting for NSA (along with various other TLA's), traveling to foreign countries installing surveillance equipment in the local telephony infrastructure.

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