Recently anointed Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman is keen on putting this whole PC business uncertainty to rest quickly, possibly even before trick-or-treaters embark on their annual candy-gathering pilgrimage.
"We have to make a final decision about what to do with the PC division," Whitman said Monday at a conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif., as reported by Bloomberg. "It’s a decision I want to make much faster than my predecessor. I want to make it before the end of October."
HP partners are encouraged by Whitman's decisive stance on an issue that has caused them many a sleepless night since ex-CEO Leo Apotheker's bombshell Aug. 18 announcement that HP was considering a spin-off or sale of PSG.
"It's great that they're going to commit to getting this done," said Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN, an HP partner headquartered in Waltham, Mass. "Not knowing what's going to happen has been the hardest part."
However, while Whitman is pushing for a decision on PSG, the most dreaded scenario for partners -- a sale of PSG to another company --- is still on the table. Todd Bradley, executive vice president of PSG, has been campaigning for standalone, publicly held spin-off, and HP has also left open the option of retaining PSG.
While partners would prefer no changes to PSG, they also appear to support the idea of a spin-off.
"It would be best to leave PSG as-is from a consumer and reseller perspective. But a separation with Todd Bradley as CEO would certainly be very doable," said Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wisc.-based solution provider. But if a split occurred and Todd and his team were not part of it, I would not enjoy the result."
"PSG is innovative and they have a huge commitment to the channel. They've also taken a very long-term approach to trends in the market, such as the consumerization of IT," Kristin Rogers, executive vice president of sales and marketing at PC Mall, a Torrance, Calif.-based HP partner, told CRN. "I don't see any downside to a PSG spin-off."
Of course, in a channel that's a large as HP's there is bound to be a difference of opinion on important issues, and so it is with PSG.
"A spin-off would be an incredibly misguided choice," said Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based solution provider. "As good as Todd Bradley and PSG is, the sum of the parts of a disjointed HP will never be as good as the whole."
Duffy says many of his customers have asked for alternative Dell quotes because they don't feel confident in the long-term prospects for PSG.
"Customers don’t want this spin-off, partners don’t want it, and HP’s peers and competitors have all made statements indicating that this will make HP weaker and open the door for more competitive opportunities," Duffy said.
Whitman is a channel newcomer, but one thing HP partners agree on is that a speedy resolution to the PSG situation would serve as an excellent karmic building block. But no matter what HP's board decides to do with PSG, Phelps believes it'll be a choice that won't be detrimental to the channel.
"It doesn't matter which way they go, we'll still adapt and succeed," Phelps said. "I think it will be a well considered and smart decision, and folks will respect that, particularly in light of what's been coming out of HP lately."