Will an HP PC Spinoff Make a Stronger Competitor?

Ben Bajarin / September 1st, 2011

I have been having conversations with key executives around the industry about HP’s decision to explore spinning off their Personal Systems Group, which is the group that makes their business and consumer PC’s. An interesting question that has come up is whether or not spinning off PSG will make for a stronger or weaker competitor in the PC industry?

The logic goes that PSG was so tied up in big company atmosphere, who as of late was prioritizing software and services over hardware. Knowing how large companies often move slow and conservatively I can see how this could be an issue for a group who wants to act more like a startup.

So the real question is if HP does decide to go ahead and spin off PSG, will this move put them in a better position to compete?

I certainly can see and sense the desire from my PSG colleagues to move and innovate faster. The PC marketplace is changing rapidly and competition is getting fierce. But PC’s are not going away and can still be a legitimate business if managed well and they innovate in a more timely manner. So it makes a fair bit of sense to build a case that if spun out they could innovate, create and compete in a fast moving market.

It is also very difficult in today’s changing technology landscape to run a business with a successful enterprise and consumer division. Both require very different mindsets, strategies and leadership.

The fact of the matter however is that whether or not an HP spinoff can make for a stronger competitor in the industry will depend on the leadership and the talent that goes with it or is acquired as a new organization.

If the spinoff is approved by the board and moved forward with, this new entity would start its life as a Fortune 60 company with over $40 billion in annual revenue and it would be the #1 PC manufacturer (if you dont’ cound tablets).

That is not a bad way to start off. However the real test of the leadership will be not just to maintain but to grow their percentage of market share in all the areas they choose to compete.

Although execution will be critical and will be what others affirm as the challenge, what may be even more important is the right vision.

HP’s slogan has been the “PC is personal again.” However the real challenge of the companies who aren’t Apple is to make the “PC interesting again.”

Intel is hoping they can assist makers like Dell, HP, Acer, Samsung and others with their UltraBook initiative. Will UltraBooks Make PCs Interesting Again?

If HP does decide to spin off PSG what we will look for is their vision. What categories will this new entity focus on? Where do they believe the growth areas are? How will they compete, differentiate and add value?

Those questions and more will be what we look for as analysts in order to come to an opinion on how successful and competitive this new business will be in the marketplace.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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