Amid PC Spin-Off, HP Still Debuting SKUs - Twice

Amid PC Spin-Off, HP Still Debuting SKUs

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NEW YORK —

Hewlett-Packard’s decision to ponder selling or spinning off its personal systems group (PSG) has not slowed the flow of new products into the channel.

Xavier Lauwaert, HP’s worldwide marketing manager, said the company is still going full-steam ahead with its holiday product launch, which includes five new all-in-one computers and a new laptop.

Officially, HP is stating it would prefer to spin-off the PSG, stating that move would be in the best interest of its shareholders. However, the company intends to fully investigate all options, including selling the PSG. The final disposition of the PSG could be settled by the end of 2011, if not sooner, but the final implementation of any deal awould extend out 12 to 18 months, a company spokeswoman said.

HP prefers the spin-off because it will allow PSG to keep its current momentum, the company said.

The impact that HP’s now-ambiguous position in the industry will have on retail sales remains to be seen. Industry insiders do not think the brand is going away, a view shared by HP’s PSG group.

Stephen Baker, industry analysis VP for The NPD Group, said the short-term retail impact will be minimal as the stores have locked in their holiday season orders, pushing any affects into 2012.

“Even though HP is exploring strategic alternatives for its PC business – and could wind up keeping it – the brand will continue to be a dominant name in that segment,” said Jeff Davis, senior sales VP for D&H Distributing.

However, he called the situation in dealing with HP is very fluid and changing at a fast pace.

Doug Schatz, electronics merchandising VP at Nationwide, said HP’s departure is only from the tablet business, and that “the brand won’t disappear from the landscape.”

Chris Connery, PC and IT displays VP for Display- Search, said his firm is seeing confusion in the market concerning whether HP future in the PC business. This is mitigated to some extent by the fact that HP is the largest PC vendor in the world forcing suppliers and channel partners to continue dealing with the company as normal.

“HP noted that it will take 12 to 18 months for any changes to be made, and it is indeed hard to turn the Titanic when it is moving full steam in one direction. While business continues, indeed we are seeing many contingency scenarios being developed at many levels in the supply chain,” he said, adding the out of the blue proclamation has created a feeling of limbo surrounding HP.

The one fact that remains clear, Connery said, is that HP wants no part of the consumer PC business.

Despite that observation, HP went ahead with a previously announced rollout of all-in-one (AIO) computers and a new consumer laptop.

HP has introduced five AIOs, the TouchSmart 320, 420 and 520 and the HP Omni 120 and 220.

Lauwaert said HP’s announcements are having no impact on the company’s product rollout, which he called aggressive and expansive.

Lauwaert said these AIOs are positioned to go against midrange PC towers and should eventually dominate this middle ground. Towers with basic feature sets will keep the low end, while gaming and high-powered towers will remain on the top.

The first three models feature a new industrial design and desk stand that can tilt the screen back to a 30-degree angle. The screen sizes range from 20 to 23 inches and now all include the Beats audio technology. Pricing is $599 for the 320, $699 for the 420 and $899 for the 520. The 420 and 520 will be available on Sept. 11 and the 320 will follow on Oct. 2.

Respective display sizes are 20 inches, 21.5 inches and 23 inches and feature the latest version of HP’s TouchSmart software.

The Omni 120 and 220 AIOs drop the touchscreen capability and will be targeted at the poweruser consumer and will bring an AIO in at a lower price, Lauwaert said.

The 120 features a 20-inch HD display and 750GB hard drive, while the 220 has a 21.5-inch screen. Consumers can choose between an Intel or AMD processor. Other shared features include built-in speakers and HP LinkUp technology, allowing them to access data from other computers via a home network.

The 120 will ship on Sept. 21 with a $399 suggested retail, and the 220 will hit on Sept. 11 at $649.

To add further support to the sound system, HP is selling the HP Pulse Beats-audio equipped subwoofer. The 60-watt sub will be available on Sept. 21 for $149.

The notebook introduction is the Pavilon DM1- 4010us Entertainment PC.

The device is powered by a 1.65GHz AMD Dualcore E-450 accelerated processor with 1MB of L2 cache. A version sporting an as-yet-unspecified Intel processor will also be available. Both versions at press time had a tentative ship date of Oct. 2, with the AMD version carrying a $399 suggested retail and the Intel set at $499.

Other features include 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM with two additional memory slots and a 7,200 rpm 320GB hard drive.

The screen is an 11.6-inch LED backlit Brightview display and the notebook has one HDMI, one VGA and three USB ports. The 3.5-pound computer has a nine hour battery life and comes with a wide variety of multimedia software.

Alan Wolf contributed to this story.

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