HP: PC-printer merger complete, 'great growth' to come

New business group combining PC and printer units fully integrated, following March announcement of internal merger, says Hewlett-Packard exec who expresses confidence both business segments will see strong growth.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Two months after announcing plans to merge its PC and printer business groups, Hewlett-Packard today has unveiled 80 new products from the integrated business unit and expects to see strong growth from both market segments.

In a phone interview Wednesday with ZDNet Asia from HP's Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai, China, Dion Weisler, senior vice president at printing and personal systems group for Asia-Pacific and Japan, said efforts to merge the company's PC and printer business groups commenced "immediately" after the announcement was made on Mar. 22.

One of the results of the merger was this week's two-day summit in Shanghai, during which 80 new PC and printing devices were launched, these include the Officejet 150 mobile all-in-one printer, HP EliteBook Folio 9470m business-targeted ultrabook and EliteBook mobile workstations.

Weisler added that the leadership team behind the newly merged business group was also unveiled recently and the company had begun talking to customers and partners to gather feedback about the merger. Response, he said, had been mostly positive.

With HP the top vendor in the PC and printer markets, he said the combined strength of both business units was a valuable proposition for the vendor's customers and partners.

The new business group allowed HP to simplify its go-to-market strategy, he added. For customers, this meant more efficient and simpler processes, while HP business partners would only need to interact with a "single face" making it easier to transact with the IT vendor, he said.

Research and development (R&D) also benefited as both divisions now were able to work "seamlessly", he said, highlighting cloud printing as an example of combined R&D efforts.

When probed, Weisler did not comment directly on how the merger would impact the company's headcount for its Asia-Pacific operations.

Instead, he said the region was the fastest growing market for the company.

HP would tap emerging markets for growth, such as China, India and Vietnam where PC penetration remained low, he added, noting that manpower would be required to address these markets.

The executive said both PC and printing divisions would see "great growth".

According to Weisler, 92 percent of the world is still printing on analog technology. Converting just 1 to 2 percent of this market from analog to digital would represent a large share of the pie, he said, declaring: "Don't believe that the printing market is dead."

Ultrabooks to combat tablet
While HP has been leading the PC market, analyst firm Canalys reported that the vendor's throne is threatened by the Apple iPad.

Commenting on competition in the tablet market, Weisler said ultrabooks would be able to address advantages that had driven users to adopt portable slate devices. For instance, ultrabooks also are thin, light and have long battery life as well as instant-on capabilities, he said.

Both product categories will see growth, he noted. The HP executive added that consumers would decide which computing device to use based on the importance of the task. For example, a student might use a tablet to consume media and do fun stuff, and would turn to PC-like devices when working on his thesis.

Weisler acknowledged price was one reason holding back the growth of ultrabooks. However, with prices of these devices going down, he believes they would go into the mainstream market, adding that HP Sleekbook--one of the 80 products launched today--retails at US$699.

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