Will CEO Meg spare HP's PC biz?

Decisions, decisions ... due this month

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HP may not lop off its PC biz after all: CEO Meg Whitman is still chewing the stats and weighing up the impact on its other hardware operations.

Whitman is set to make the final decision at the end of this month, though HP's board were already getting cold feet before the exit of former CEO Leo Apotheker, who hatched the plan.

Reports in the Wall Street Journal cast fresh doubts on the spin-off, as HP's cost analysis has revealed that holding onto the unit might actually be more beneficial – something The Reg pointed out months ago.

Execs have already admitted that the review of Personal Systems Group, announced publicly in August, sent ripples across the entire organisation.

Rivals sought to amplify the uncertainty with Cisco claiming if HP spins off PSG, its component purchasing power will diminish and lead to lower gross margins and less financial love for resellers.

The constant playground tactics from Dell and Fujitsu – HP would probably have reacted in the same way – also kept the PSG team on the back foot at a time when channel partners wanted it to go on the offensive.

In a blog post, Tim Mattox, Dell veep for enterprise product marketing, pointed to a survey by analysts at TBR showing that 60 per cent of 130 respondents felt the PSG saga showed HP has lost its way.

Fujitsu Technology Solutions UK boss Michael Keegan, who admits that his firm "lost focus on the channel" after the break-up of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, reckons HP has been "helpful" to its cause.

"There is complete confusion everywhere as to whether HP's mainstream client business will be there," he said, "Customers want predictability and to know what the roadmap looks like."

The longer HP takes to decide the fate of its PC biz, the more opportunity it hands to rivals to talk up fear, uncertainty and doubt in its installed base.

Local HP management tried to settle any concerns but the early indications are not good, for its UK sales anyway. As revealed by El Reg this week, channel analyst Context's market data revealed that HP shipments and revenues fell in the weeks after the PSG announcement was made. ®

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