Division split takes a small step back to the old
The vendor who offers an alternative to your HP
3000 rolled back the clock a little in mid-June, though not far
enough to recant its flight from the 3000. But HP announced that it's
taking those printer and PC units and splitting
them apart, a full about-face from the Carly Fiorina strategy in
January of "a
bigger HP is a better HP." Now that it's got a new CEO, HP
is reorganizing, back toward a business plan that recognizes not all
products are alike.
HP put the news of the split-up of PCs and printers in the second
paragraph of its press release that announced former PalmOne exec
Todd Bradley as new head of a separate PC unit. Don't look for a full
spinoff of the printer business from the rest of HP soon. You don't
appoint a fellow to run a unit just to spin it off. Duane
Zitzner's work to ensure a smooth melding of PCs and printers now is
just a memory. Mainstream computing press coverage at the San
Jose Mercury News as well as on
CNET has focused on the flip-flop in HP's strategy
The move looks like the first of perhaps several significant
rollbacks to a style that created the HP 3000 and its marketplace.
Back in those days of the 1970s, every product line from HP was not
only its own division, it often operated as if it were its own
company. This was the era that created the ackroymn "CSY,"
meaning Computer SYstems Division. The HP 3000 sensibility lives on
in the vendor at cubicles and desktops where virtual CSY employees
(yeah, vCSY'ers, they call themselves) still spend parts of their day
on 3000 engineering and planning.
What splitting printers from PCs will mean to the 3000 customer
depends on your current point of view about HP. If it's the company
providing a 3000 replacement, you might be glad that PCs and printers
seem like different kinds of businesses once again. Part of the
problem with the HP's 1990s management of its computer business:
everything was supposed to thrive on the laser printer business
model. Smaller direct sales channel, less room for different and
superior engineering this is the fallout of chasing the
commodity computing model.
On the other hand, if HP is the company that's abandoning your
company's bulwark server, then the PC-printer split-up could mean
that Dell might have to sharpen its pencil to get your desktop
business. These units get separated to give them room to manuever,
especially on areas like pricing.
And if HP is the company you're leaving behind
while you are forced to drop off your 3000 in a few years
well, another spinoff of its enterprise computing business, the
non-Windows servers driven by the likes HP-UX and OpenVMS, could be
just around the corner. That might make IBM more competitive in Unix
alternatives, or push Sun even further out into discount land.