HP Separates PCs, Printers--Again

Bradley, former president and CEO of palmOne, joined HP as PSG executive vice president, following HP CEO Mark Hurd's decision to return Personal Systems and Imaging and Printing to stand-alone groups.

Bradley's appointment comes as Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP struggles with a strategy to take more x86 system business direct even as it tries to enlist more partners to go after the crucial but elusive SMB market.

In a memo titled "Partnering Appropriately" sent to HP's U.S. sales force in April, David Booth, U.S. country manager and senior vice president of the Customer Solutions Group, wrote, "When we make a commitment to a partner, we should keep it. Our word is our bond." But in the same memo, he acknowledged, "In selected markets, increasingly in the volume x86 market as an example, we must drive more direct."

This dichotomy is at the heart of many of HP's conflicts with partners. At issue is the ongoing effort by some HP telesales representatives to wrestle business away from the channel by urging customers to buy directly from HP rather than solution providers.

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Just last week, David Kiernan, president of solution provider KC Computers, Whitewater, Wis., said he was trying to fend off HP efforts to shift his customers to HP direct. About six weeks ago an HP telesales rep offered to do a mass-mailing to KC Computer customers urging them to buy HP products from the VAR, Kiernan said.

"That sounded like a good idea since HP had the marketing power and I had the customer list," he said.

But after HP sent out the initial mass-mailing, the vendor's telesales rep began calling KC Computer customers asking them to buy directly from HP, he said.

"I feel like it was just a ruse to get my customer list so they can go to my customers and get them to buy direct from HP," he said.

When made aware of the incident, an HP spokesperson said the vendor would investigate.