According to stories just hitting the news, HP is exiting the PC business and the Pad business and hence the mobile device business. Which means that it wasted $1.6 billion buying Palm. It is also in talks with Autonomy to acquire it (for about $10 billion, they say). And that means, as far as I can tell, that HP really does intend to have an enterprise software business, which of course is why, not so long ago, they bought a whole slew of software companies including Mercury (testing software) and Ops Ware (of Marc Andreessen fame). Then they promptly failed to do anything with either of them and watched them waste away like trees in a Texas drought. And if you’re wondering about the cost – for Opsware and Mercury – that was about $6 billion down the toilet.
But let’s not be too hasty about this. That was in the days of the now departed and not much loved Mark Hurd who went out and got software companies but never quite got software. New CEO, Leo Apotheker, might well get enterprise software a lot better than Mark Hurd ever did – coming as he does from SAP. And as for the PC business, it would be pushing up daisies soon anyway. Remember the NetBook? Me neither.
The Mobile Market
The phone market is crowded and, it seems, only Apple (magnificently) and Google (less impressively, because it doesn’t draw in rivers of cash) are on a rising curve. RIM is dead in the water, Microsoft blew it by being too late and failing to be relevant, when they arrived and Nokia is a spent force (not only spent but in overdraft). It now remains for Nokia, RIM and Microsoft to fall together so that they can fail together rather than fail separately.
It’s all over bar the law suits, and there’s bundles of those to keep us amused for years.
So Whither HP
Well in case you haven’t noticed HP is very good at hardware, and also (less obviously) it’s brilliant at networking and it’s giving Cisco a run for its money. The printer business is no longer what it was, but it won’t die quickly. HP has a healthy consultancy business and it needs, I mean desperately needs, a successful enterprise software business like the one IBM or Oracle has.
An interesting straw in the wind in respect of that, is that their latest acquisition, Vertica, has not seized up and died since the HP acquisition. It is actually still growing like a weed. This is partly because (in my humble opinion) Leo has a better idea of how to treat a software acquisition than Mark Hurd ever did and partly because column store databases are still hot products.
So I guess HP is remaking itself in a big way. This may not be a good economic time for doing that, but it’s long overdue anyway and HP were never going places in the mobile market. It’s not their kind of business.
So will the wonderful Web OS die a death?
Yes, I guess it will, which is a shame.