Once seen as world-leading innovators, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are currently peering over the abyss, with market value for both firms nosediving by 60 percent.
Any tech-savvy chief technology officer, product manager or business development associate can tell why. Both firms have missed cutting edge trends in computer technology over the last few years, from hand-held touchscreen devices to cloud computing.
Have the ships of innovation already sailed?
Commenting on HP’s demise, analyst Richard Kugele of Needham Research said that his firm is “deeply troubled” by the computer behemoth’s problems, identifying five key contributory factors:
1) Macroeconomic headwinds weighing on IT spending (and expected to continue “well into FY13”).
2) A fundamental shift in printing habits, impacting IPG.
3) A once-strong services business that is seeking to recreate former pricing power.
4) A PC business struggling to find a place in the new tablet/ultrathin world while fighting off bottom- feeders.
5) Making lemonade out of the lemon Autonomy acquisition.
A similarly grizzly verdict was reached by law and business professor Erik Gordon of the University of Michigan, who says, “It’s like they are both standing on the dock watching boats that have already sailed. They are going to have to swim very fast just to have the chance to climb back on one of the boats.”
Why market value nosedived
Let’s crunch a few numbers. Few would dispute that Apple shifted the whole direction of computer technology back in 2007 when it launched the iPhone. Since then, HP’s market value has plummeted to $35 billion and Dell’s has dived to $20 billion. Combined, this amounts to less than the $63 billion Apple made from iPhones and assorted accessories in the last nine months.
A number of bad decisions have paved the way to the brink of the abyss for these one-time giants. HP spent over $40 billion on acquisitions, which have turned out to be turkeys, and Dell simply seems to have ignored the touchscreen, hand-held revolution.
Dire though the circumstances are for both companies, analysts agree that they’re not insurmountable. IBM made a major turnaround a few years back and is now thriving and HP CEO Meg Whitman seems determined to follow suit.
At a recent conference, she said, “Make no mistake about it: We are still in the early stages of a turnaround.”