Local HP resellers have criticised the company's plans to spin off its PC business which they fear could lead to a loss of market advantage while damaging the HP brand.
The comments follow revelations this week that HP's own internal analysis of the proposed spin-off had concluded it wasn't the best course.
Meanwhile, HP Australia today revealed that the company planned to launch a new line of HP-branded consumer and business notebooks by the end of the year.
Frank Triantafyllou, managing director of HP partner Complete PC Solutions is concerned by the prospect of a separate HP PC business which he said ignores HP's unique market strength in being able to offer enterprises one brand across the board.
“They want HP desktops, laptops, servers, storage and printers,” he said. “There’s not many other vendors that do sell everything. They have a unique opportunity, a monopoly; they own a division in every market segment; no-one else offers that. So it would be very silly to make the decision to not offer that broad product range any more.”
Geoff Olds of HP hardware partner TechFlare echoed Triantafyllou’s comments.
“One of the attractions of HP, and one thing they’ll have to accept, is people want a synergy between products, and this just takes one of the pillars away,” he said. “So when you’re looking at presenting a solution, you have to deal with a separate company with separate licensing and warranty. If nothing else our clients like to see the same brand going through, they feel a little bit more comfortable.”
John Grant, managing director of HP reseller Data#3 said he was unimpressed with the way HP communicated its plans for the PSG business, which he prefered to see remain within HP, although he expected to retain a relationship with the group no matter form it takes.
“I didn’t think there was anything wrong with HP’s strategy previously, I though they were one of the most successful computer companies in the world,” Grant said. “The fact that the CEO didn’t think that and he’s now got the boot, you have to ask what the board actually thinks."
“We’re a reseller so as long as there is an HP PSG business in some form we’ll be a reseller for HP products. We’re not preparing for anything other than for HP to get their messaging right so we can have constructive conversation with our customers.”
HP’s competitors have taken the opportunity to go after HP’s unhappy partners, with Lenovo claiming it has gained 40 new partners thanks to reseller dissatisfaction with HP. HP’s South Pacific PSG vice president Janice Cox said she had not heard one partner say it would move away from the company, though HP was acting to placate concerned partners by ‘getting out in the field’ to work with them in generating sales.
HP is gearing up to release a new range of notebooks despite ongoing uncertainty around the future of its Personal Systems Group. Cox said business and consumer models would be announced before the end of this year, and confirmed the notebooks would be HP-branded.
The impending launch follows the September release of new desktops and notebooks in the US. An HP spokesperson said internal discussions about the potential sale of the PC business had not halted future PC product plans.
“We have not changed our product plans, roadmaps, warranties or support commitments,” he said. “The channel can continue to count on HP and PSG during this process.”
Cox was unconcerned about the latest Gartner figures showing Lenovo had taken over Dell as the second-biggest PC vendor globally.
“I’d be more worried if I was Dell,” she said. “I’m not worried at all about it, I absolutely understand that partners might have a concern because any change comes with a little bit of uncertainty, and it’s our job to get out there in the marketplace and make the partners feel more positive and give them that level of confidence and that’s what my team is working on.”
A decision about the future of HP’s PC business is expected to be made before the end of this month. Cox said if a spin-off was deemed to be the best option, it would take at least 12 to 18 months to implement.
“That will be a board decision and I expect it will be taken fairly soon, and regardless of which way it goes, we’ll be completely committed to the tech industry, to our partners and our customers, and we’ll keep bringing out great products,” she said.