Hewlett-Packard CEO Says Goodbye PCs, Hello Cloud Computing
In a stunning day for Hewlett-Packard and its partners, HP said it’s seeking to sell off its PC business, killing its WebOS tablet business, and pushing far deeper into cloud computing, software and solutions. In many ways, Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker is striving to remake HP into a modern-day IBM. But will Apotheker’s plan succeed?
I’ve got some strong opinions about each HP move…
1. Potentially exiting the PC business: Smart, assuming HP and the potential buyer manage channel partners effectively during the potential transition.
2. Pushing deeper into software: Smart. But that won’t be easy. HP’s software marketing efforts have never been stellar. Promising brands like OpenView should have been ready to cash in on cloud computing data center management.
IBM identified the software middleware opportunity more than a decade ago. Oracle spent the past decade buying up maturing application businesses.
Now, HP could have a difficult time carving out a software niche of its own. But today’s $10 billion acquisition of Autonomy, which develops database searching software, offers a clue as to where HP is heading.
3. Pushing deeper into solutions: This sounds like another word for services — a fancy way for HP to say it does what IBM does, without using the same terminology. HP’s services push hasn’t exactly blown away the industry yet. But perhaps a more focused HP — minus the PC and WebOS tablet businesses — will jump start the services engine.
4. Pushing deeper into the cloud: Again, sounds smart. But incredibly difficult to execute. I was in the audience earlier this year when Apotheker told HP partners his vision for the cloud. It involved HP competing with Apple iTunes and Amazon Web Services. Plus, HP WebOS would be the core platform allowing users to access all of those HP cloud services.
Fast forward to the present and Apotheker has killed HP’s WebOS tablet and WebOS smartphone businesses. Note to self: It’s rather amazing how quickly a CEO’s cloud vision can change when products — WebOS — aren’t selling…
Still, Apotheker and HP made bold statements today. They’re willing to part with the past — PCs — to march toward the future. The big question: Is anyone willing to buy HP’s $41 billion PC business, so that HP can move more quickly to the cloud?
Parting thought: I wonder… will Lenovo make a move here?