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The stepped-up push into the software business would provide much higher margins than the PC, server and printing business that makes up the lion's share of HP's $123 billion in sales. HP has a lot of room for improvement in the software business: Software revenue was essentially flat for the nine-month period ended July 31 at $2.61 billion, accounting for only 3 percent of HP's $92.75 billion in total sales for the period.
Apotheker's comments signal that HP is going to compete more aggressively with Oracle, which hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd last month. It also opens the door for HP to form a tighter strategic partnership with or possibly acquire Apotheker's former employer, SAP.
If HP does go into a head-to-head software battle against Oracle, it has additional software executive talent with the appointment Thursday of Ray Lane, Oracle's former president and chief operating officer, as non executive chairman and a new member of the board of directors. Both Apotheker and Lane's appointment are effective Nov. 1.
When asked if HP will follow Oracle's lead by providing an integrated hardware-software stack, Apotheker refused to comment specifically on Oracle's strategy. But he did indicate that HP would move to put a full panoply of technology "all together into a cohesive strategy" for customers.