Hewlett-Packard is the largest PC maker in the world, significantly outpacing even longtime rival Dell these days. So it was more than a bit of a shocker today when the company announced plans to spin off or sell its personal computer business.

By the same token, HP spent more than $1 billion to acquire Palm and its webOS a little more than a year ago. Which made it even more of a shocker when the company said today that it would be discontinuing its webOS device sales — including the TouchPad — and re-evaluating the future of the mobile operating system.

But digging into the underlying trends, even our rudimentary chart gives a sense for where things are headed. We can only imagine what HP CEO Leo Apotheker is seeing in the numbers available to him.

Reflecting trends in the broader PC market, HP’s computer shipments have essentially been flat over the past couple of years — in large part because people are spending their money on iPads rather than lower-cost PCs when it comes time to buy a second or third machine in the home.

HP’s decisions today were “shaped heavily by secular market trends that are redefining how technology is consumed and deployed,” Apotheker said in announcing the news.

In short, Apple’s fingerprints are all over both of HP’s decisions today.

So where does this leave companies still relying on the traditional PC business? Time will tell, but this much is clear: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had better hope those Windows 8 tablets are the best thing since the ham sandwich. September can’t get here soon enough.

Comments

  • Guest

    By the time W8 tablets ship, Apple will be on iPad v4 or 5. It’s game over. MS lost, again. Music, then phones, and now tablets. Only this time the consequences of failure are enormous and go to the heart of MS’s empire.

    Remember when iPad first launched and MS denied Dick Brass’s assertion that they were being disrupted by Apple and others? Three years later the PC market is in shambles and now the biggest OEM is pulling the plug.

    Looking forward to whatever emerges once Ballmer is finally fired and MS restructured. Instead of killing MS, Apple may actually have saved it from itself by making continuation of the status quo and reliance on the cash cows no longer a viable option.

    • Personaconsumas

      And this has Nothing, what-so-ever, to do with MicroSoft.  Go curl up with your i-machine of choice and go play stoop tag in the asparagus garden.

      • Reality

        A typical MSFT employee response to a valid argument… Why is it so hard to accept failure? You need to get over it. The good old monopoly days are over. With so many competent players in the market, the end users don’t eat everything that comes out of the MSFT kitchen anymore. (W7 is an excellent example, even the service provider sales people tell customers to stay away from it…)
        Your CEO & SLT are not able to shift gears due to their endless ego. They created a GM of technology & innovation.Learn from the success stories and appreciate, not pee on them!

      • Reality

        A typical MSFT employee response to a valid argument… Why is it so hard to accept failure? You need to get over it. The good old monopoly days are over. With so many competent players in the market, the end users don’t eat everything that comes out of the MSFT kitchen anymore. (W7 is an excellent example, even the service provider sales people tell customers to stay away from it…)
        Your CEO & SLT are not able to shift gears due to their endless ego. They created a GM of technology & innovation.Learn from the success stories and appreciate, not pee on them!

      • Guest

        MS’s largest OEM getting out of the PC business, specifically referencing the disruption caused by the success of tablets (i.e. iPad) as a factor,  has “nothing, what-so-ever” to do with Microsoft?

        • Reality

          As things started hitting the fan, this gives MSFT a chance to blame OEM??? Instead of taking part of the responsibility and see that there is an epic failure in vision and innovation from the OS side.

          Mac and Linux based hardware sales are going through the roof and one of the largest Windows OS based manufacturer is trying to get out of the game -you are telling me that MS should blame the tablets for this??? wow!

  • Guest

    There’s definitely a PC market upheaval/disruption. But you seem to be minimizing some fairly obvious and specific HP issues including being naive about the commitment required to launch a new OS and ecosystem, their failure to position themselves well in mobile, their lack of innovation in PCs, and the increased threat they’re facing in the enterprise business from Oracle/Sun. The new CEO also has no appetite or aptitude for the consumer market, whereas his predecessor was the reverse; trying to remake HP in Apple shadow.

  • Sourav Dey

    HP should do a sophisticated and solid marketing for their PCs. HP website (Product pages) must be reformed.

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