What do you do with a company that makes 75% of it’s business from B2B and 25% from a nascent portable market and the dying consumer computer market? You could do what the late CEO thought: sod the consumer and jump all the way in to B2B. What’s the problem with that? IBM and Oracle to start and perhaps SAP to end. Essentailly, you’re getting into a market with already established competitors in an area of industry that’s not very excited about change.
Then there’s the idea of blowing out a quarter of business which sits at just past the tipping point. Sure , the market for conusmer desktops will only be a shadow of itself in the near future, but the technolgy that HP now has could eclipse this.
What would be the right thing to do? Do both, but connect them. HP is in a unique place where it could, in fact, connect the dots from the mobile/portable/tablet market and big business systems and have the clout to make it work. The genius is the making the end-to-end work.
HP would actually become what everyone thinks RIM was. The business portable device company. They would be the trusted company that business would turn to to integrate from mainframe to cloud to cell phone. No more hunting down patch programs or looking through tables to see what’s compatible with what. They could just buy the whole system.
You see, this is a race. And that race is to see who can close the circle between the secure server, the cloud and the portable. The world is moving away from desks in office buildings and becoming mobile and fluid. This is made possible by having the internet everywhere, absurdly portable devices and the need to reduce operating costs. Right now we all have each of the components, but the integration is certainly not at the depth we need.
The big problems companies face in connecting the dots is essentially bespoke hardware and software and the notion of trust. This is where HP could shine. HP is a trusted name in the corporate world – certainly trustworthy enough to enlist the help of managing important data. Most importantly, HP owns their operating system, and can open or secure it at any depth or expand it to any who asks. Something companies using android cannot do. It also controls the hardware on the devices (hopefully) guaranteeing a quality of service just like iOS but in a more business-friendly manner.
By becoming business’s mobile solutions integration company, Hewlett Packard sits in a market it arleady knows and against players who arguably haven’t figured it out yet, namely Microsoft and Research in Motion. This positioning also takes itself out of the more cut-throat competition in the consumer space, where HP has shown it has no clue on how to compete. Finally, if HP is truly serious about moving totally into the B2B market, being the integration company would be the ultimate leveraging platform to own the rest of the market.