Unless your source for tech news is your local suburban newspaper, you’ve undoubtedly heard about some big changes happening at Hewlett-Packard: considering spinning off their PC business, cancelling the webOS devices they’ve been hyping the past few months, and buying an enterprise company that nobody has heard of for 10 billion dollars, give or take.
On the surface these moves seem irrational and abrupt. But maybe, HP is just the only company with the guts to read the writing on the wall. Quoting from the recent Personal Systems Group press release:
The personal computing market is quickly evolving with new form factors and application ecosystems.
The PC industry is in a free fall, because the iPad and App Store are what consumers want.
Given these realities, HP believes it is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders to explore ways for PSG to position itself to address these rapid changes and maintain its technological and market leadership positions.
Because our initial efforts to keep up have failed, we think it’s best to find a place to put the PSG out to pasture where no one will even notice when it breathes its last.
Even with a minority of market share, Apple’s cut of PC industry profits is unprecedented. Their integrated approach has paid off, and they have the cash pile to prove it. Slow growth and incremental improvement got them to where they are, and that game plan won’t be successfully implemented by anyone else in short order.
It’s disappointing that the vision behind webOS seems completely lost on the executive team of HP. It almost feels as though their corporate structure is incapable of supporting innovation. We can cross our fingers that webOS will fall into capable hands at some point, but for now it seems that HP is just the first player to admit they were in over their head.