HP dropped a bombshell this afternoon, announcing plans to acquire British software firm Autonomy and saying that its board of directors "has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG). HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through a spin-off or other transaction."
HP has also said that it's discontinuing its new TouchPad and WebOS smartphones, although it still plans to "explore options to optimize the value of WebOS software going forward."
HP's statement makes it clear that new CEO Leo Apotheker intends to change the mission of the company, but it also includes a lot of unknowns, and separating the Personal Systems Group could mean a lot of different things. It could spin the division off to operate as a standalone company, as in the recent split of AOL/Time Warner into a series of independent firms. HP could also sell the systems business to a competitor, as IBM sold its computing division to Lenovo in late 2004.
In the event of a sale, the buyer could run the business as is, shut it down to free up HP's market share for its own, or enact some other strategy. We can only speculate until the deal is completed.… Read more