HP, Dell Ride Next Wave of TV

Updated: Internet access and high-definition screens are part of the future of TV, according to several companies better known as PC makers. (PCMag.com)

ORLANDO—Gateway Inc. may have thrown in the towel on making TVs, but competing PC makers are still eager to plug their boxes into living rooms across the land, with Dell Inc. set to deliver its biggest LCD TV ever and Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO and President Mark Hurd hewing to the TV line during his keynote at Gartner Symposium/ITXpo here on Tuesday.

Hurd was put in Gartner Inc.s so-called CEO hot seat at the show, grappling with customer complaints presented by analysts and in a video of slightly querulous showgoers.

Although IDC reports that HP is gaining market share in PCs and its share price is up more than 30 percent this year, the company is facing criticism on a number of fronts.

As pointed out by Gartner analyst Leslie Fiering, the embattled company has seen losses in its software business over nine quarters, and some wonder how HP will justify the expenditure to fix it.

Its juggling an unintegrated mishmash of management software, some of it acquired in mergers with Compaq and, more recently, Peregrine Systems Inc.

In the midst of its thrashing about to find focus as customers bemoan the companys deteriorating customer service, Hurd said the company was returning to fundamentals, leveraging its core technology brawn in the server, storage and management businesses.

One keynote attendee remarked that this return-to-fundamentals shtick is what you hear when a company has flunked when it comes to developing new products.

HP has no plans to back off from TVs or other consumer products, Hurd said—although if it did, he wouldnt be announcing it at Symposium, he quipped.

HP competitor Gateway suffered a disappointing foray into plasma-screen and liquid crystal display TVs.

It abandoned efforts in July, acquiring eMachines Inc. and turning back to its roots—that is, selling PCs to consumers and businesses.

Despite Gateways failure, PC makers such as HP and Microsoft Corp. are still pursuing the vision of putting the PC at the center of the coming digital home, where it will be a hub for Internet access, storage and transmitting of content.

Editors Note: This story was updated to clarify a statement about losses in HPs software business.

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