"If it is a spin-off with the current team led by Todd Bradley, our customers will continue to be loyal to HP," said Rick Chernick, the CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, one of HP's top SMB partners based in Green Bay, Wisc. "This is not about Rick Chernick and his company. It is not about HP -- it's about what the customer thinks. You have got to take care of the customer. Customers can live with PSG as a publicly-held spin-off. No problem. What they can't live with is more confusion, uncertainty and changes that a sale of the PC business would entail. Customers like the HP product quality, innovation, programs and resellers relationships. That would change with the sale of PSG to another company."
Mont Phelps, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based NWN, one of HP's fastest growing partners, praised Bradley and DiFranco for getting into the sales trenches to help partners win deals. "It is really important that they get out into accounts and go face to face with the customer," said Phelps. "DiFranco just did that for us on a big deal. It totally diffused the issue of a PC spin-off. The important thing is we need to have conversations about the merits of the technology and the solution for customers."
Bradley said that sharp focus on customers remains unwavering even in the midst of the process to spin out the PC business. "We are more focused on gaining customer insight than we have ever been," he said. "Putting more resources in place to understand it. Not just from a channel perspective, but also from a consumer perspective because we are at the beginning of the impact of the consumerization of IT on the enterprise, on any of our partner's customers. I think we are once again leading the industry in a thought process that says 'How are we going to lead the industry through this next transition?'"
Bradley also opened the door to the possibility that a PSG spin-off could be freer to deal with other vendors as it charts the course for the next generation of client devices. When asked whether a PSG spin-off will establish other relationships with third party companies, Bradley echoed comments made by HP Chairman Ray Lane: "The reason to do this is to enable PSG to respond more quickly to the markets that it competes in."
Denali's Daher, for his part, sees a PSG spin-off as more in the mold of an Apple driving a new era of client devices. "PSG as a stand-alone plays to the strength of what PSG is all about," he said. "PSG's history speaks for itself. They have the largest and most intricate network of channel partners across 170 countries. They are going to build on what is successful and got them where they are today. Six years ago, HP was No. 2 in the PC market. Today they are No. 1. They are going to build on that and make sure they take their partners with them."