HP's local PC boss fronts the media

Local PSG general manager favours the division being spun off

Eleven working days after Hewlett-Packard made the dramatic announcement it was ditching its tablet and possibly selling its PC division, the New Zealand general manager for the Personal Systems Group Paul Boshoff fronted the local media.

Yesterday’s briefing was a carefully orchestrated affair. Boshoff stood before a small group of technology journalists in a cordoned off area at an Auckland waterfront restaurant.

He was flanked by new PCs, the specifications of which he could not reveal because they had not been launched. The presence off all that hardware was presumably to emphasise the message that, for HP in NZ, it’s business as usual.

It was a different story on Friday 19 August, when news broke that HP’s new Touchpad was toast and the PSG division could be on the block. Boshoff heard the news along with everyone else – via the US internet news sites - and while the phones rang hot in Auckland’s HP office, no one picked them up. They waited instead for the the official company information they could share their employees, customers and journalists.

HP had made the announcement to the stockmarket on the eve of its quarterly results, before telling its own staff. The international dateline meant that the New Zealand market was the first to feel the heat.

“It was a surprise to all of us, the product (TouchPad) had only been a shelves five days,” Boshoff says.

HP had around 2,000 TouchPads on sale in New Zealand, which have all sold - thanks mainly to the massive discount that HP authorised the following week.

It’s not the end of Web OS or HP tablets, Boshoff told the media yesterday, but when pressed for details as to what devices Web OS might be deployed on or to which companies it might be licensed to, he could not say.

“We will have tablets,” he claimed, but “I don’t know what that means, I can’t guide you.”

He says the decision as to whether PSG will be spun off, sold, or remain with HP will be made by December and any changes will take 12 to 18 months to implement. Boshoff favours PSG being spun off and he points out that PSG comprises 31 percent of HP, and generates $40 billion a year in revenue. If it were a stand alone company it would be placed at 60 in the Fortune 500 – ahead of Coca Cola, Boshoff says.

He says that in the AsiaPacific region the PC market is far from saturated – in India for example only 37 out of 1000 people have a PC.

In New Zealand, IDC claims that HP is the leader with 34 percent of PC market in 2010. And Boshoff adds that HP employs 200 software developers locally.

“We are the most local of all the international brands,” he told the media yesterday.

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