HP: We're Not Selling PC Business

HP strongly denied reports coming out of Asia that it is planning to sell its PC business to Samsung, saying the PC business is central to its overall product strategy.

Hewlett-Packard officials have moved quickly to stamp out rumors that the company was planning to sell its PC business.

In a terse two-paragraph statement issued March 10, Bill Wohl, HP's senior vice president and chief communications officer, said the rumors were unfounded and illogical, and took aim at the source of the rumors.

"Irresponsible reporting by Taiwan's Commercial Times, suggesting that HP might sell its PC business, should be dismissed as market rumor and speculation," Wohl said in the statement. "HP runs the world's largest PC business and it is core to HP's strategy for the connected world."

The Chinese-language Commercial Times reported March 10 that HP executives were considering selling its PC business to Samsung Electronics. Digitimes picked up the story, noting that Commercial Times also said that HP officials also had had contact with Lenovo and Foxconn Electronics.

However, Digitimes reported that sources said the possibility of HP selling the business was low. Wohl's statement backed that up.

Like rivals such as Dell and Acer, HP has seen its commercial PC business pick up in recent quarters, driven by corporate migration to Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. However, the consumer side of the business has struggled, particularly in light of the rising popularity of tablet PCs. In the company's fiscal first quarter, HP saw revenue in its commercial PC business grow 11 percent from the same period the year before, while consumer revenue fell 12 percent. Overall revenue for HP's Personal Systems Group dropped 1 percent.

Still, HP is the top PC vendor in the world. According to market research firm IHS iSuppli, HP in the fourth quarter 2010 held 19.4 percent of the global PC market based on shipments, with Dell coming in second with 12.1 percent market share. For the entire year, HP in 2010 had 18.8 percent of the market, with Dell standing at 12.7 percent.

A sale of the PC business also would run contrary to recent statements by CEO Leo Apotheker, whotold Bloomberg that not only will the company push its newly acquired webOS operating system into smartphones and tablets, but also starting next year, the OS will be supported by all HP desktops and notebooks in hopes of creating "a massive platform," which would attract a larger number of application developers to the OS.

The PCs also will continue running Windows.

Such a large developer community will be important if HP in the smartphone space is to challenge Apple and its iPhones and the various devices running Google's Android OS. HP gained webOS last year when it acquired Palm for $1.2 billion.