The 10 Biggest HP Inc. Stories Of 2015

HP Inc. Top 10 Stories Of Year

Seventy-six years after the founding of Hewlett Packard, the company was split in two. The split created HP Inc.,a new $55-billion PC and printing business, that among other big moves this year established a new 3-D printing business unit and took aim at Dell in the SMB market.

The year also included notable product highlights such as what partners are calling a hit 2-in-1, the Elite x2, and the first Windows 10 enterprise tablet – the HP Pro Tablet 608. HP Inc. also set the table for potential big sales growth in the 3-D printing market with the creation of a new business unit and the green light for HP partners to sell the Sprout 3-D immersive computer.

Partners, for their part, see a bright future for HP Inc. as a more agile and innovative company on its own. Here are the top 10 HP Inc. stories of the year.

If you missed it, be sure to take a look back at the rest of the best of 2015 with CRN.

10. HP Names Rising Channel Star To Top Printing And PC Channel Post

Stephanie Dismore, a rising channel star with experience working hand-in-hand with superstore technology behemoths, was named vice president and general manager of U.S. channels for HP Inc. in March.

"The key takeaway for the channel community is to understand that our commitment and point of view on the importance of the channel has not changed," Dismore told CRN in an interview after taking the top job. "We are a channel company. We know the power of the partnership with the channel. Channel is No. 1 for HP, and it is going to continue to be as we move forward."

Partners say Dismore, a 16-year HP veteran whose previous posts included vice president and general manager of HP's U.S. Consumer Sales, did a good job continuing the company's channel momentum. Kevin Jones, vice president of Micro Center Computers & Electronics, one of the largest national technology retail chains in the country, said he expected Dismore's retail experience would help drive large sales gains for HP in the SMB commercial segment.

9. HP Gives Partners Green Light To Sell Sprout 3-D Immersive Computer

HP Inc. in May gave partners the opportunity to sell its innovative Sprout 3-D computer.

HP bills Sprout as the world's first immersive computer, breaking down the barriers between physical and digital computing worlds. The product is already being used in education environments for customized learning and collaboration.

Sprout is one of the products being championed by 15-year Apple engineering veteran Eric Monsef who joined Hewlett-Packard two years ago.

HP said it was mounting the commercial channel offensive in response to demand from solution providers that see Sprout as a potential game-changer in education, creative professions and enhanced collaboration.

Before opening up the product to solution providers, Sprout was available only from select retailers, including Best Buy and Microsoft retail stores and the Home Shopping Network.

8. HP Beats Microsoft To Punch With Enterprise-Ready Windows 10 Tablet

Microsoft may be the developer of Windows 10, but it was not the first to unveil a Windows 10-based tablet. That honor goes to Hewlett-Packard, which unveiled its enterprise-ready Windows 10 tablet in June.

Specifically designed for business productivity apps, the HP Pro Tablet 608 features a 4:3 aspect ratio – a 35-percent increase from the standard 16:9 tablet displays.

Weighing in at less than 1 pound, the HP Pro Tablet 608 features a front-facing camera and noise-canceling software to support video conferencing in airports or hotel lobbies. HP said the tablet will provide support for Cortana, Microsoft's voice command interface that aims to put the whammy on Apple's Siri.

The new Windows 10 device is another example of HP innovating in the business market by delivering a "purpose-built solution for business, as opposed to trying to make a consumer machine work for business," said Kris Rogers, senior vice president of partner and product management at PCM, a $1.5 billion El Segundo, Calif.-based national solution provider.

7. HP Inc. Agrees To Resell Surface Pro

HP Inc. agreed to resell Microsoft Surface Pro in a move that some partners complained put them in competition with their own vendor partner.

"We are excited to announce that as part of the Surface Enterprise Initiative with Microsoft, we will be offering the Surface Pro 3 through the HP direct sales force," wrote Hewlett-Packard Vice President Mike Nash in a blog post. The HP deal was part of a Microsoft "Surface Enterprise Initiative" aimed at driving Windows 10 into large enterprise accounts.

But HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler told CRN there were no mixed signals being sent to channel partners or even HP Inc.'s direct sales force with regard to leading with HP Inc. products. "We will always lead with HP," he told CRN. "Our salespeople are renumerated on selling HP products. If our existing customers that have elected to take Surface Pro want us to be able to service that rather than yield that customer toward a competitor, we will service it. But always the first preference will be toward HP. My sales guys don't earn a dime when they sell Surface Pro."

6. HP Readies 3-D Printing Offensive, Appoints Nigro To Head Up 3-D Printing Business

As part of its eagerly anticipated 3-D printer offensive in 2016, HP set up a new 3-D business unit with 33-year HP Inc. veteran Stephen Nigro leading the charge.

HP Inc. has promised to deliver an end-to-end 3-D printing system in 2016 with 10 times faster 3-D printing speeds at higher levels of part quality and reliability at a breakthrough price performance point. HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler has said Nigro's job is to establish a leadership position for the company in what is expected to be a fast growth market.

Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, one of Hewlett Packard's top partners and No. 300 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500 list, is the kind of classic big bet that has made HP an innovation leader "That business alone could be a $1 trillion opportunity down the road," he said.

5. HP Inc. Launches "Everything-As-A-Service" Channel Offensive

HP Inc. set the stage to drive more partner services growth with a new commercial partner program that took effect Nov. 1. The initiative program is aimed at driving more business around managed print, mobility services and even "everything-as-a-service," while at the same time maintaining momentum on transactional PC and print products.

"We felt HP Inc. needed to help partners ramp up their solution-selling skills," said Vincent Brissot, vice president of worldwide channel marketing for HP's Printing and Personal Systems business. "This is all about helping partners move from a transactional model into everything-as-a-service."

The program consists of four tracks: Value Track, which HP said provides partners with incentives to "build and develop practices around services, mobility and vertical solutions"; the Alliance Track for ISVs and systems integrators; the Transactional Track for PC print and supplies; and the OEM Track for HP OEM partners.

4. A Hit Product: Elite x2 - A 2-In–1 Built For Business

Solution providers say HP Inc. has a hit bona fide hit product with its new 2-in-1 tablet, the Elite x2, HP Inc.'s first mobile product launched by the independent company.

The Elite x2, priced at $899, was designed as a breakthrough product appealing to both businesses and tech-savvy consumers. The product has a sleek, European-like design, but at the same time is packed with enterprise security, manageability and serviceability features for business users.

HP Inc. is touting the Elite x2, based on the sixth-generation Intel Core M processor with vPro security and manageability technology, as the first tablet "truly built for business." The product, which will begin shipping in January, comes with an HP Travel Keyboard and HP Active Pen.

"I see this product taking at least 15 percent market share from the other competitors in our market," said Joe Hemani, owner of Theal, England-based distributor Westcoast. "I have never seen anything like this from HP. It is a resilient product with all the functionality anyone could ever want. It has the attributes for all three markets: consumer, SMB and enterprise."

3. HP Inc Takes Direct Aim At Dell In SMB Market Offensive

Taking direct aim at rival Dell, HP Inc. launched a new PC and printer SMB offensive as it got set to break out as an independent company.

HP Inc. Americas President Christoph Schell unveiled the new SMB offensive at CRN parent The Channel Company's Best of Breed Conference in October. Schell told conference attendees that HP Inc. was set to add 80 new reps charged with "hunting" new SMB business in a 100-percent channel-led model.

The SMB assault came as Dell grappled with the complexities of its planned $67 billion acquisition of storage system manufacturer EMC and its subsidiary VMware.

Taking aim at the Dell SMB stronghold, Schell told partners: "I think they are going to be preoccupied. I am going to ask those 80 reps to go after that business. I am counting on you to help us develop that business." Schell added that the SMB customer base has historically been underserved in the U.S. "This is a big deal," he said. "This is hunting and passing it on to partners."

2. HP Names Weisler As CEO of HP Inc.

Hewlett Packard kicked off 2015 by naming its executive lineup for its two new independent companies, including Dion Weisler as the CEO of HP Inc.

Partners credit Weisler, a 25-year IT veteran who took the helm of the PC and printing business in June 2013, with leading an innovation renaissance at HP Inc.

Kris Rogers, senior vice president of partner and product management at PCM, a $1.5 billion El Segundo, Calif.-based solution provider, said she sees Weisler as a "rock star" CEO who has driven an unprecedented level of innovation. "Look at the products that he has already brought to the market, like Sprout," she said. "I think the PC and printing business is doing some really cool things."

Weisler, for his part, said he is humbled by the opportunity to lead HP Inc. going forward. "This is an amazing group of people," he told CRN after the launch of the new company. "Our whole community, our partners, our ecosystem partners and our employees have got so much energy. They live for this company. You cut them and they bleed blue."

1. HP Inc. Becomes Independent Company, Partners See Sales Growth Ahead

The new era of HP Inc., a separate independent company focused squarely on PCs and printing, began with a raucous celebration at the new company's Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters and a nod to the company's founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

Hewlett-Packard's PC and printing business began a new chapter in its storied history as it became an independent company on Nov. 1 – HP Inc. The debut of the new $55-billion company was the culmination of many big moments in 2015, including hiring a rising channel star for the company's top channel job and the formal launch of a new channel program aimed at driving services growth.

"Bill Hewlett and David Packard started as friends," said HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler. "They were technologists who looked towards creating the future. They challenged all of us to continue to make a larger contribution to society."

The embrace of the company's founders is part of the invent and reinvent culture of the "brand new" HP Inc. that has partners pumped up for future sales growth. Harry Zarek, CEO of Compugen, No. 59 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500, said he expects 15 percent sales growth in 2016 with HP Inc. as it breaks out from the corporate bureaucracy. "I think there is huge upside for all of us," said Zarek, one of 60 HP partners from around the globe invited to be part of the launch event. "They are going to be a powerhouse. It's all about upside."