HP Unruffled by Downturn in Its Consumer PC Sales

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-06-01 Print this article Print

title=Too Soon for HP to Worry?}

Too Soon for HP to Worry?

Tablets have only been out for a bit more than a year. Laptops have been around for a generation and are a proven device. Is it too soon to ask if HP is beginning to worry? Its own tablet PC, the TouchPad, won't be out until this summer.

"This is what our industry does-we evolve," HP executive Stephen DeWitt told eWEEK. DeWitt serves as the company's senior vice president and general manager of the Personal Systems Group in the Americas, thus he is about as close to this market change as anybody.

"If you look at the rate of innovation over a number of years, it's truly accelerated. I would push back a little; I don't want to sound like Mark Twain, but the demise of the PC category ... [you can fill in the rest]."

DeWitt (pictured) is among those who believe that with the overwhelming desire for people to get connected using devices of all kinds, that the personal notebook PC will continue to maintain its place indefinitely for use in both personal and business communication.

"Look, we expect that by the end of the decade, more than 4 billion people will be online, and the number of devices that are hung off the cloud will dwarf the number of devices that are out there today," DeWitt said. "IDC has estimated that by 2020, there will be 30 billion devices hung off the network."

'Universe' of 30 Billion Devices to Come

"Inside of that universe of 30 billion devices, the estimate is that there will be between 400 billion and 500 billion e-commerce transactions every day. Also inside of that, there is going to be a massive proliferation of data. Think of every sensor, every trellis in a vineyard, every corn row, every boxcar, every packaged good, every car-everything is going to be connected to the Net," DeWitt said.

Processing this is going to continue to require solid, dependable devices for software and hardware developers that can do the heavy-duty jobs that need to be done. In other words, there's plenty of room for all kinds of personal and business computers in the future, whether they look like notebooks, tablets, or some other form factor that hasn't yet surfaced.

Tablets are fun to use, lightweight, handy to carry around and getting more functional all the time. But there are weaknesses: Touch-screen keypads are more difficult to use, on-board storage is limited, security has been an ongoing concern and overall horsepower isn't nearly there yet.

"Right now, our PC businesses around the globe are at all-time historical highs," DeWitt said. "Our U.S. share is north of 29 (percentage) points, which is as high as it's ever been. We've taken category leadership in areas like notebooks-we haven't had the No. 1 position in notebooks in the United States ever, until we took it away from Dell just recently. Dell had held it since 1999.

"We're now the top notebook seller in Brazil; two years ago we were No. 6. And so on."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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