[conspire] HP Melt Down

Adrien Lamothe alamozzz at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 23 11:23:59 PDT 2011

>From the little I heard, it sounded similar to what IBM did with Lenovo. However, doing so after the first WEBOS acquisition and tablet resleade does seem to indicate that right hand (or hemisphere) does not know what the left one does...

IBM's deal with Lenovo was a very good move. Margins have been razor thin in the retail & consumer PC channels for many years. IBM still retains an 18% interest in Lenovo and many of the IBM employees are still employed, only now at Lenovo. No other company can beat Lenovo's manufacturing costs, unless maybe they open a factory in Vietnam where the labor costs are lower. IBM wisely decided it was better to have 18% of a potentially huge market share, than 100% of a much smaller share (and one likely to keep shrinking.) In HP's case, there isn't a company out there like Lenovo, that will benefit from any of the HP brand names in HP's PC division. The Lenovo acquisition of IBM's personal computer business worked because the ThinkPad brand name is legendary around the world. IBM actually didn't need their PC division, because they earn most of their $92-$100 billion per year on consulting services, enterprise software and selling big iron (three areas which
 have a nice synergistic effect, or perhaps as military people would say, a nice "combined arms" effect.) HP had a chance to commit more deeply to professionally services, but Carly Fiorina balked at the asking price for Price Waterhouse Coopers; when she decided not to acquire them, IBM immediate did so, adding to what was then and still is the largest professional services business in the world. Ms. Fiorina instead decided to acquire Compaq, which wasn't a terrible acquisition up front, but one that loses value over time. It would have been better to acquire PWC. HP has since tried to play catch up, acquiring EDS a couple of years ago, not a bad move considering government spending tends to be immune to recession and EDS does a lot of government work. But EDS is much smaller than IBM Global Services (with revenue of $56 billion), see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Global_Services.

There also have been some mis-steps at HP, such as the overall success (or lack thereof) of the Itanium processor (jointly developed with Intel.) One piece of recent bad news is Oracle's announcement that they are dropping Itanium support (now that Oracle owns Sun, they want to push their own SPARC hardware.) There are rumors Oracle may try a hostile takeover of HP if HP's stock price drops low enough; I think that would be a bad move but Oracle may think the numbers add up if they can capture HP's enterprise customers and of course they will also get EDS. But the logistics of such a merger are tricky enough even on friendly terms.

Back to PCs and consumer electronic devices, HP is squeezed between players such as Apple, Lenovo, Asus, etc. Add that to their other challenges and things look quite difficult indeed. When you throw in three high level management changes in a short time period, you end up with conditions that can very well cause implosion.
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