We Didn't Mean It, Really

The vast conspiracy against all things Carly marches along at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . Well, sort of. New CEO Mark Hurd yesterday reversed a key decision of his predecessor by making the Personal Systems Group an independent unit selling PCs, handheld computers, and related devices. Former CEO Fiorina had combined the PC group with printing and imaging in January, the month prior to her ouster.

The new group will be led by former palmOne (Nasdaq: PLMO  ) CEO Todd Bradley, who left the company in January after production problems were revealed at the device maker. Bradley inherits a group that has been losing market share to rival Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) in recent months. The solution, at least according to yesterday's announcement, is to improve HP's competitiveness and cost structure. Talk about vague.

Just how, exactly, will Bradley accomplish either of those goals? Look, I'm no fan of Fiorina's excessive hype, but her move to tie PCs to printers wasn't bad. It made logical sense, in fact. Now that the PC group is once again separated, it will compete with Dell head-to-head, with absolutely none of Dell's cost advantages. And this is beneficial how?

Don't get me wrong: I'm not out to bash Hurd. He's earned his stripes in the executive ranks. And I think his decisiveness is impressive. But I struggle with the idea that this is a good move just because Todd Bradley is an experienced manager. In fact, I get the sense that this change is popular because it snubs Carly.

So let's just get it straight, shall we? This may very well be an excellent move by Hurd. There's certainly no doubting Bradley's credentials. But there's no way to know whether he'll be able to cut costs and increase competitiveness as promised. Till there's a plan that investors can actually follow, it's probably worth withholding judgment.

Want other Foolish techie tidbits? Try these:

Dell and palmOne areMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendations.

What's your take on HP's change? Is it aimed at Carly or Dell? Or both? Share your thoughts with other Fools at the Hewlett-Packard discussion board.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers isn't a PC guy. He'll take his Mac OS X PowerBook any day, thank you. Tim doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile here. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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