re: One CES Lesson: HP's Apotheker Had It Right
Good comment, Art. I agree, there are no great options for HP, only less bad options. They tied themselves too tightly to Microsoft and now they are going to lose a substantial portion of the client side with the rise of Android/Linux and Apple. HP, and Dell, seem to be blind to that fact. They are just addicted to Microsoft's steady revenue streams, albeit at give away margins, and do not want to take on the user experience side of the OS.
IBM does more than ok, but that is a different story. IBM sells highly differentiated servers/storage and software (as well as services) which have little to do with the client side. There were no strong synergies for IBM with PCs as all of their businesses were in the data center or on the business process side. Unlike IBM, HP has to worry about the impact of PCs on their large printers/ink and lower-end x86 servers businesses. No one stopped purchasing WebSphere or mainframe because they could no longer get a bundled deal with ThinkPads, but they may stop purchasing HP printers/ink and x86 servers if they cannot purchase them with PCs. IBM was also were not so foolish as to acquire a giant PC company when the writing was on the wall that PCs were becoming commodities. IBM acquired PwC plus software companies, HP acquired Compaq and they have been going in different directions since that time. That is HP's issue, the "Compaq problem", they have too much of their business wrapped around the client side or client-plus commodity data center hardware.
As you mention, this may be a slow death through attrition as the Asian manufacturers break-up their PC/printer strongholds (or PC/printers just become irrelevant), but I think losing PCs would result in a rapid death. At least holding onto PCs gives them time to come up with a plan.... Other than that, things are great at HP!
PS, I think the Itanium blowup by Oracle is going to be a huge hit for HP, much larger than people realize. The Itanium servers, BCS, look negligible on HP's financials, but when you consider the services/software that is attached to those installs, as well as x86 servers/storage that are held in place by them, it is a much larger impact.