HP thinks beyond the PC era

Executives at the world’s largest computer company are looking to the future, and are calling the end of the PC generation.

Inside the Enterprise: In 2010, the late Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, called time on the PC.

His suggestion was tablets and smartphones would supplement, and in time supplant, computers, and that servers would move to the cloud, has largely proved to be accurate.

And the point was made again by Meg Whitman, HP's chief executive, at that company's analyst summit in the US. Ms Whitman also believes that we are moving beyond the PC. HP, instead, talks about "personal systems"; indeed, HP's personal computer division was, for many years, called the Personal Systems Group. (HP is rather fond of reorganisations, so the business unit is now called PPS, for Printing and Personal Systems).

Advertisement - Article continues below

The PC may not go away, but the PC of the future will certainly look, and feel, very different.

In fact, HP's PC unit has started to recover, but Ms Whitman conceded, after the company's most recent financial results, that it needs to divert more resources into mobile devices. HP, of course, bought Palm and its webOS platform, and tried to enter the smartphone market.

More recently, HP has tried out the market with Windows-based tablets, including Windows 8 tablets unveiled at CES, and a seven inch Android tablet it announced at this year's Mobile World Congress.

Advertisement - Article continues below

This might appear destined to confuse the consumer, but HP executives talk about a "multi-OS" world, and also one where devices are based on different chip sets, principally those from ARM and Intel. But the 7-inch Android-based Slate 7, announced at MWC, is squarely a consumer device and a low-cost one at that. HP, it seems, is determined not to be driven out of the consumer market by lower-cost rivals.

Advertisement - Article continues below

For a business the size of HP, making personal devices is just one way of opening the door to other products and services. Even more so than Apple, HP is about ecosystems.

If more consumers buy tablets even $200 ones like the Slate 7 they will use more cloud services and networking. Businesses, the thinking goes, will buy more servers, and software, to deliver applications from entertainment to shopping. There will be more demand for security technology, another area where HP has invested heavily of late. HP is a large company: in its most recent quarter, its revenues (turnover) came to $28.4 billion (18 billion). And businesses will need services to stitch all this together.

But the idea of shifting from the personal computer to a world of personal systems might need a little more work, if it is to become mainstream. Plenty of computers, and businesses, own multiple Apple, Android, or PC devices, but they are unlikely to see them as a "system". Making the parts work together seamlessly is still something the technology industry struggles with.

Advertisement - Article continues below

New developments, though, might bring Ms Whitman's idea closer to reality. Ideas such as Google Glass and other types of wearable computing really are very personal indeed; phones with near-field communications and RFID chips that know where we are, and can push out relevant information, are already on sale. HP has flexible screens in its labs that could be used in all manner of devices, and computers that can be controlled by gestures.

The PC may not go away, but the PC of the future will certainly look, and feel, very different.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro. 

Featured Resources

Preparing for long-term remote working after COVID-19

Learn how to safely and securely enable your remote workforce

Download now

Cloud vs on-premise storage: What’s right for you?

Key considerations driving document storage decisions for businesses

Download now

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Transforming productivity

Solutions that facilitate work at full speed

Download now



Armari Magnetar S64T-RW1300G3 review: Overwhelming firepower

8 Jul 2020

Acer ConceptD 500 review: Worth every penny

23 Jun 2020

Zotac ZBOX VA621 Nano: Small, cheap, but not perfectly formed

19 Jun 2020

The best professional workstations for any budget

9 Jun 2020

Most Popular

Careers & training

IBM job ad calls for 12-years of experience with six-year-old Kubernetes

13 Jul 2020
Business operations

Nvidia overtakes Intel as most valuable US chipmaker

9 Jul 2020
cyber attacks

Trump confirms US cyber attack on Russia election trolls

13 Jul 2020