If I had a Billion Dollars
The news from the Corporate World is that Hewlett Packard, the once noble producer of the world’s best calculators and inkjet plotters, has decided to get out of the Hardware business:
Not so long ago, HP threw approximately $2.7 Billion (US) at 3com:
http://money.cnn.com/2009/11/11/technology/hp_3com/index.htm , because;
“By combining HP … with 3Com’s extensive set of solutions, we will enable customers to build a next-generation network infrastructure that supports customer needs from the edge of the network to the heart of the data center,” said Dave Donatelli, HP’s vice president of networking”.
A few months later, HP also grabbed up former 3com subsidiary, Palm, for $1.2 Billion:
About a decade ago, HP thought it wise to acquire Compaq for a mere $25 Billion:
According to reports, HP’s new CEO has decided the Hardware business has no future upside and Software and Services are where it’s at. So, he’s directing the company to walk away from approximately $28.9 Billion in past investments – and from thousands upon thousands of respectably loyal and reasonably satisfied customers – only to spend $11.7 Billion (depending on the US Dollar to GB Pound exchange rate) more to buy software firm, Autonomy.
I don’t know HP’s less-than-a-year-on-the-job CEO, Leo Apotheker, and the closest I’ve come to his past company’s products are hearing horror stories (a prize will go to the first person with a documentable story about an SAP implementation that was on time, on budget and met expectations).
I do have some experience, however, with products made under the 3com, Palm, Compaq and HP names. It seems to me that Mr. Apotheker lacks an appreciation for the legacy he inherited. To be fair, the above acquisitions did not take place on his watch and his hiring may have been a direct result of those purchases not panning out. In hindsight, HP paid much more than they should have. Still, to entirely kill off – or spin off – a portfolio of solid Hardware products seems like a waste.
At least when Apple and Google toss about their “pocket change”, they’re doing so to add to their arsenal of patents, in the hopes they can someday sue for infringement of an idea they bought…
They’re not jettisoning perfectly good product lines, as Hewlett Packard is.
The world still needs Hardware. Even if we tend to stretch out its useful life longer than any manufacturer would prefer. Eventually, a component will wear out, needs will grow and/or a new Technology will render older Hardware undesirable (think 10GB Ethernet Switches).
Without 3com, HP and Compaq products, consumer choice will be limited and, by the Law of Supply and Demand, prices will rise. Not what we need right now.
If I had a Billion Dollars, I’d try to rescue some of these solutions.