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HP in 1999 spun off its electronics testing and analysis business as Agilent Technologies. However, unlike the Agilent spin-off, which was (and is) a very profitable business, HP's PC division is a very low-margin business.
HP solution providers point to IBM's decision to sell off its PC business to Lenovo in 2005 as a comparison that makes more sense -- and ended up benefiting the channel.
"Lenovo is a great partner now, and you couldn't say that about IBM before they sold off their PC business," said Swank. "[An HP PC business spin-off] could be a positive for the channel and make it easier to sell HP products."
However, some HP partners believe the PC spin-off is a mistake. Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based solution provider, says HP's ability to offer full suite of integrated, internally developed solutions to the table is one of its strongest selling points.
"Spinning off the PSG business would relegate HP to second-class citizenship in the IT world," said Duffy. "I know I wouldn't want to buy servers and storage from one vendor, and then have to hassle with managing a second relationship and set of compatibilities with a second vendor."
There are plenty of other examples of how selling its PC business could help HP. CEO Leo Apotheker has made a priority of building HP's software, services and cloud computing capabilities, and a leaner HP could also lead to better performance for the already successful ESSN (Enterprise Storage, Servers, and Networking) division, according to solution providers.
Joseph F. Kovar contributed to this article.