Hewlett-Packard Co., five months after combining its PC and printing businesses, last week separated the two and appointed a new head to the PC unit.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company appointed R. Todd Bradley as the new executive vice president of the Personal Systems Group. Bradley had served as CEO and president of handheld device maker PalmOne Inc. over the past four years and before that was at computer maker Gateway Inc.
The restructuring move by HP CEO Mark Hurd reverses a decision by his predecessor, Carly Fiorina.
Fiorinas decision had been the latest in an effort to consolidate businesses. In late 2003, she had combined the enterprise systems and services businesses.
The decision to merge PSG and the Imaging and Printing Group was seen as an effort by Fiorina to better coordinate marketing and management among the two businesses.
It also was seen by many industry observers as a way of quelling some analysts demands for HP to spin off some of its businesses, such as the printing or PC unit.
The move also came in the midst of several changes in the competitive PC landscape—less than a year after Gateway bought eMachines Inc. and a month after IBM announced it was selling its PC business to Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd.
The hiring of Bradley highlights CEO Hurds intentions for the PC group, an analyst said. “More important than the hire itself is the restructuring. I applaud that,” said Roger Kay, an analyst with IDC, in Framingham, Mass.
“The PSG needs to be a stand-alone business. It needs to have its own leader, and that leader needs to be reporting in at the top,” Kay said.
The arrival of Bradley also makes a PC spinoff a lot less likely, at least for now, Kay said.
Wayne Myers, network administrator for Los Angeles law firm Hooper, Lundy & Bookman Inc., lauded HPs decision to separate the two business units. The move will enable HP to better focus on its smaller-business customers that might otherwise be lost in the behemoth that is the printing unit.
“I think the home market and business market are two separate things,” Myers said. “Everybody down the line uses HP printers—every business and every home. But when it comes to the smaller businesses, the computer part is where they have to concentrate. … I want to see them come up with some interesting technologies that let them differentiate themselves from everybody else.”