Over the weekend of October 4-5, 2014, the Wall Street Journal ran two articles (1, 2) on the suggestion that HP. On Monday, October 6, 2014, confirmed that it would split itself into two companies. One company would have the PC and printer assets (HP Inc.) and the second, the balance of the assets comprising of the enterprise hardware, software and services (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise).
Making money in the end-point computing market has become a specialist market. Who are these specialists? Samsung, LG, Asus, and a number of other smartphone, and tablet makers. Most of these vendors are Asian (I would argue, all of these vendors are Asian). They see vertical integration not in terms of PCs and servers, but in terms of smaller and larger form factors of creation and consumption devices (think smartphones versus Chromebooks).
As solutions such as those offered by DocuSign and Adobe’s EchoSign gaining traction. These solutions drive down the need for printers. We no longer need to print out documents to sign (a major driver for the use of printers). There will always be people like me, who despite spending over 75% of my life (literally) working with computers, still prefer to print every single email on paper before reading it, and printing ever PDF I receive, even if I’m only interested in a handful of pages; the printer, like the PC is (very) slowly becoming niche.
So, whereas, five or 10 years ago, in selling the printer business, HP would have been selling the cash cow, the attraction of the printer and PC business is certainly less attractive. Don’t get me wrong, the toner and ink business continues to thrive. When I look at my ink bill for the year, there is still a long tail for the annuity ink/toner business.
As for the enterprise business, the makeup of this business is very different overall. The margins are different. The deal size is different. The mentality towards the sales and marketing is different.
Overall, this move is a sensible move for HP/Hewlett-Packard. Forget the speculation of a potential merger between the future Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and EMC. The press release says the split will not fully be completed until the end of fiscal 2015, (October 2015). So any merger discussion would not happen for another 12-15 months.
For now, HP needs to focus on developing its enterprise business around efficiently delivering infrastructure bundles (aka converged infrastructure) to its customers. It needs to look at opportunities to package and bundle its software offering together with these converged infrastructure. In an upcoming report on converged infrastructure from Neuralytix, our initial research shows that of all the converged infrastructure vendors, HP has the greatest growth opportunities.
If HP does not get too distracted by the structural elements of the organizational changes, and focus on the day-to-day business at hand, then the sum of the parts (HP Inc and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise) will be greater than the whole (HP today).