HP: we’re “100% committed” to PCs

HP is “first and foremost” a hardware company, CEO Meg Whitman has said, months after the firm considered selling off its PC arm.

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Whitman reaffirmed the company’s commitment to PCs during a surprise appearance at HP’s Global Influencers Summit in Shanghai.

Speaking at the conference’s closing address, Whitman said that HP’s “commitment to PCs and printers is 100%” – a different message than rival Dell, which has recently claimed it was no longer a PC company.

“First and foremost we’re a hardware company… there is no company better in the world at designing and engineering products and bringing them to market,” Whitman said.

There is no company better in the world at designing and engineering products and bringing them to market

Last year, then CEO Leo Apotheker announced he was considering selling HP’s PC business, but Whitman was quick to quash any plans after her appointment as CEO in September 2011.

“The first decision I had to make was whether or not to spin off our PC business,” said Whitman. “Within 30 days we had analysis that proved PC is an essential part of Hewlett Packard. Quite quickly we decided to keep our PC business and invest in it.”

PC and print merger

Instead of selling the PC business, HP has combined its computing and printing divisions in a larger group dubbed the Printing and Personal Systems Group. Whitman explained this was done to “simplify our business, remove complexity, and make it easy for customers and partners to do business with HP”.

The new division is headed up by Todd Bradley, who previously ran the Personal Systems Group.

While Whitman appeared enthusiastic about the future of HP’s newly-formed hardware division, saying that the move will “make our business much stronger”, she also addressed the turbulent time HP has had of late – a period that’s seen its earnings dive by 44% and revenue slide by 7% in the first quarter of 2012.

“The challenges HP has been through over the past several years have been well documented,” she said, claiming that recent boardroom turmoil has calmed down and that “we’re working closely together to plot a new future for HP”.

“This is a journey,” said Whitman, “and it will take time to restore HP to where I believe it belongs.”

Eastern promise

Whitman wouldn’t confirm, however, that job losses would be avoided. “We have to look at how we spend money across HP,” she explained. “It’s a process we’re currently going through, so everything’s on the table.”

The only thing Whitman would rule out was the prospect of swinging job cuts in China, saying that “this is a growth market and there will be no workforce reductions in China on a broad scale”.

“It’s one of the top technology markets in the world”, with HP already building “over 90 million PCs in China every year” for sale on the domestic market, she said.

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