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).

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.

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.

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.

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

Choosing a collaboration platform

Eight questions every IT leader should ask

Download now

Performance benchmark: PostgreSQL/ MongoDB

Helping developers choose a database

Download now

Customer service vs. customer experience

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Download now

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security

A complete guide to penetration testing

Download now

Recommended

Scan 3XS GWP-ME N1-32T review: The fastest content creation machine around
Hardware

Scan 3XS GWP-ME N1-32T review: The fastest content creation machine around

16 Apr 2021
Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review: The ultimate small form-factor PC?
Hardware

Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review: The ultimate small form-factor PC?

17 Mar 2021
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review
Hardware

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review

11 Mar 2021
Apple Mac mini (Apple M1, 2020) review: A miniature marvel
Hardware

Apple Mac mini (Apple M1, 2020) review: A miniature marvel

19 Feb 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
REvil threatens to release Apple’s hardware schematics
ransomware

REvil threatens to release Apple’s hardware schematics

21 Apr 2021