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Toys fly from prams as HP rivals stoke FUD fires on its split

PC and printer biz separation is manna from heaven say Dell, Acer and Lenovo

It's handbags at dawn in the PC market as rivals round on HP in a bid to sow the seeds of fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding the corporation’s plan to split the business in two.

As world + dog knows, the Palo Alto titan is to create HP Inc to house its computer and printing businesses, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to sell servers, storage, networking, software and services. The process is expected to be completed by the end of October next year.

The strategy is a tacit admission the One HP strategy - the “we’re better together mantra” - has not worked. Yet HP says the move will make it more nimble after missing some industry growth waves: tabs and smartphones.

Dell, which had to defend itself from attacks by competitors when it was again set to become a private entity, was quick to put the boot into HP, returning a past favour from CEO Meg Whitman.

A spokeswoman for the Texan tech titan, said it is “singularly focused” on, er, delighting punters, unlike its rival, and that strategy was “resonating” with customers.

“HP’s decision to break apart its business is complex, distracting and appears to benefit HP and its shareholders more than its customers, which is ultimately the wrong priority.

She added it “takes time to unwind the commingled businesses and customer accounts. Other large separations like this have often taken years to complete.”

A spokeswoman at HP snapped back: “The only thing resonating with Dell’s strategy is a lack of enthusiasm. Based on the conversations we’ve had, our customers and partners understand our strategy and they are as excited as we are for how two laser focused Fortune 50 companies can help drive their business”.

On its uppers again after a tough couple of years, Acer EMEA regional director Neil Marshall claimed there will be “short-term turmoil” for HP as it embarks on a “restructuring exercise”.

“That for us and the other vendors is the opportunity”, he told El Chan.

Not wanting to be left out of the playground shenanigans, Lenovo said “consistency” in its strategy over the last half a decade had led to swelling market share in PCs, tabs and smartphones.

Darren Phelps, channel director, Lenovo UK and Ireland, said it had remained “ consistent and nimble, allowing us to successfully attack new opportunities”.

“That consistency is critical for any business and strategic flip flops only serve to confuse partners, customers and employees. Whilst others are looking for a game plan that works, we have been executing ours and the results speak for themselves.”

There is a long period of time for the HP Inc transition to take place, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, but he warned the vendor will need to “work hard to keep instability to a minimum”.

“There will be some uncertainty, no doubt [about that],” he told us, adding HP’s move was “a different solution to the same problem all PC vendors are facing; falling margins in a volume sector, they can’t change that business model”.

Other analysts were less lukewarm about the move, with Canalys principal analyst Alastair Edwards saying feedback it received from partners was overwhelmingly positive.

“HP’s channel partners have told us they think the move will lead to more focus for the PC and printer business, it will be more nimble”. ®

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