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Day August 19, 2011

HP's decade-long departure

HP’s sudden departure from a business model that has sustained the company since inception is symptomatic of the passing of an era. Yesterday HP announced that it would exit the PC and tablet computer business, focusing on higher-margin “strategic priorities of cloud, solutions and software with an emphasis on enterprise, commercial and government markets.” In other words, HP is fleeing upmarket, away from a core that it will abandon to device makers.

HP management conceded that the disruptive impact of the iPad forced their hand but that hand was already quite weak from a decade of over-serving the market. The last decade offered plenty of opportunities for incumbent PC companies to adjust to the realities of mobility. However only one computer maker made the transition.

Why is that?

Consider how HP and Apple faced the changes in the PC market almost exactly a decade ago.

  • On September 3, 2001, HP announced that they would acquire Compaq.
  • On October 23, 2001, Apple announced the iPod.

The rest, as they say, is history.