Friday, August 19, 2011

The new HP way, the day after, courtesy of Good Morning Silicon Valley

Such a good column, esp. for the tech nerd/exec, and always something notable at the end for your time-waster alter ego...   :-)


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Date: Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Subject: Good Morning Silicon Valley: The new HP way, the day after

Good Morning Silicon Valley

The new HP way, the day after

By Levi Sumagaysay

It took HP less than two months to dump the TouchPad. It's taking investors no time at all to dump their shares in HP, which also is thinking about dumping the PC. Hewlett-Packard shares are tanking 20 percent to about $23.60 as of this post, losing one-fifth of their value.

After all is said and dumped, questions remain:

Is webOS finally dead? Is this the PC-pocalypse?  Can HP emulate IBM and thrive post-PC?

Before HP made its big announcements yesterday, some word had leaked out a couple of hours before: HP is exiting the PC business, and is buying British software company Autonomy for $10 billion. The third bombshell solidified the company's shift from targeting consumers to betting on enterprise: After less than two months on the market, HP is sending its TouchPad tablet to an early grave, to a cemetery populated by Microsoft's Kin and other flops such as Apple's Lisa and IBM's PCjr.

In doing so, HP seems to be throwing away its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm last year, although the company says it might license webOS, the operating system that many think could survive if paired with the right hardware maker. For example, Samsung and HTC might be looking for an alternative to Android in the wake of Google's planned purchase of Motorola Mobility. But Ina Fried at All Things Digital says licensing webOS might be easier said than done, because HP would need to continue supporting webOS, and it has not shown the "stomach to be in the mobile game." If HP decides to sell its webOS unit instead, ZDNet's Jason Perlow suggests RIM, maker of the BlackBerry and the PlayBook, as a possible buyer., the online retailer that's rumored to be working on a tablet, is also being floated about as a company that might be interested in webOS.

By exploring the spin-off of its PC business, the world's biggest PC maker is conceding that the "post-PC world" popularized by Apple's iPhone and iPad is here to stay. Smartphones and tablets have captured the computing masses' imagination, and there's no turning back. Still, even as Android smartphones and Apple iPads chip away at the traditional PC's dominance, one way to look at the demise of the personal computer is to realize that it isn't really dying — it's evolving. There will be personal computing. It just might not look the same.

For now, though, the traditional PC is yet to be dead and buried, hence the talk about which manufacturers might want HP's PC business. Analysts say China-based Lenovo (which swallowed up IBM's PC business more than five years ago) and South Korea's Samsung are possibilities, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, which also mentioned other hardware manufacturers such as Acer and Foxconn. Because making PCs is low margin, it makes sense that the talk is revolving around Asian companies.

Will CEO Leo Apotheker's strategy, which is being compared to IBM's shedding of its PC unit, work to transform the company? Analysts quoted by the Mercury News seem to believe it will have long-term benefits, saying it will turn HP into "a smaller, faster-growing and higher-margin entity," which is what investors want. But perhaps investors didn't get the memo, because they're dropping HP stock like a hot potato. It's hard to blame them. ZDNet's Larry Dignan points out that HP faces different challenges than IBM did, and chief among them is that IBM was not facing a post-PC world when it got out of the PC business.

Other reasons investors might be nervous: Apotheker is essentially undoing Carly Fiorina's legacy — HP's $19 billion purchase of Compaq a decade ago helped propel the Silicon Valley company to the world's No. 1 PC maker — after initially touting the company's position as an advantage. Apotheker had also touted the TouchPad, of course, and other HP executives had said earlier this year that the smartphone and tablet race was "at the beginning of a marathon, not the end of a sprint." (See Quoted: HP puts running shoes on as Apple, Google complete their first mile or two.) While some may view HP management's flip-flops as a positive — willingness to admit miscalculations and make difficult decisions to find a long-term fix and all that — it looks like some investors wary of the massive restructuring charges to come are wary of the new regime, and perhaps wondering if HP has lost its way for good.

So many more questions remain, many of which we'll be sure to explore in the coming days. Among them: How does this massive strategy shift by one of computing's biggest players affect other tech companies? Where do HP employees go from here? And how much time will Apotheker get to prove that his strategy will work?

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"The expression 'woot' began in America but was picked up very quickly by people in Britain, as a result of the Internet breaking down international boundaries."

Angus Stevenson, OED editor, on the newest additions to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, many of which come from the tech world — including "woot," which is synonymous to "hurray" and has roots in the hacking and gaming worlds. Other examples include retweet, sexting, cyberbullying and a social media-focused definition of "follower." CNet lists other additions, including jeggings and mankini.

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Off topic: Murphy's laws, world photo day, bagging brand names, Cookie Monster and Tom Waits: Murphy's laws, from love to tech to toddlers. It's World Photography Day. Check out these engagement photos and make sure you scroll all the way down. (via In Korea, chasing luxury has created a market for brand-name paper bags. (via Marginal Revolution) And two videos of Tom Waits' "God's Away on Business," one featuring Cookie Monster. (HT Mike)

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