HP Bundles Box's Cloud

Enterprise PC buyers can now get cloud storage and collaboration services with their HP computers.
Slideshow: Apotheker Takes The Stage, Paints An HP Cloud Vision
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Apotheker Takes The Stage, Paints An HP Cloud Vision
HP is putting Box in its boxes. Enterprise PC buyers who order a new HP Compaq Pro 6500 or 6200 Series PC will have access to a free Box account with 10 GB of storage and reduced annual rates for upgraded capacity.

And those purchasing a new HP Elite 8200 Series PC will have access to a Box account with unlimited storage and synchronization at no charge for one year.

HP's partnership with Box, a cloud storage and collaboration platform, is a tacit admission that computing is moving from a product-centric business model toward services.

"Our customers are entering a new era of data management and storage, and they need a simple, cost-effective way to collaborate and share information in the cloud," said Stephen DiFranco, SVP and general manager of HP's Americas personal systems group, in a statement. "HP's broad range of PCs plus Box's scalable service provides the desirable security, functionality and features to meet the needs and budgets of our customers."

Research firm Gartner characterizes this new era in terms of projected enterprise spending. The company predicts that enterprise spending on public cloud services will increase from 3% total enterprise spending in 2010 ($74 billion) to 19% in 2015. At that rate, spending on public cloud services will outpace the overall enterprise spending gains forecast by a factor of five.

[ HP reversed its plan to get out of the PC business. Read HP Will Keep PC Division. ]

HP's former CEO, Leo Apotheker, had planned to steer HP away from selling PCs, a business that has become less appealing as computing has shifted toward mobile devices. The company in August said it would get rid of its PC division. But the following month, HP's board got rid of Apotheker instead and replaced him with Meg Whitman.

In October, Whitman, as HP's new CEO, reversed course and committed to retaining HP's PC group. "HP and PSG [Personal Systems Group] are better together," she said on a conference call. "At the end of the day, the cost and the risk of a separation are simply greater than any value we could create [by spinning PSG off]."

Yet, HP's attachment to its PC business isn't a vote of confidence in what has become a moribund market. It has more to do with the negotiating power that comes with being a larger buyer of electronics components and with the lucrative service deals that can be linked to marginally profitable PC sales.

That's where HP's partnership with Box fits in. HP is thinking outside the PC, about serving enterprises as an orchestrator of services.

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