Last week, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina took the microphone at a press conference in South Beach (nice work if you can get it) to unveil her company's new lineup of digital products. While reading over HP's accompanying press release several hundred miles from Florida, I was reminded of an article former Fools Dale Wettlaufer and Brian Graney wrote several years ago that's still timely today.

In The Direct PC Model, they exhorted us not to think of companies such as HP, Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Gateway (NYSE:GTW) as "high-tech" but rather highly integrated organisms combining precision manufacturing with marketing, distribution, retailing, and service. Given that, it's not so surprising -- though it might have been hard to foretell, say, 10 years ago -- that HP would be willing to devote its resources to the production and marketing of TVs, iPods, and cameras.

It's true that there's a very different competitive environment in electronics today than we've seen historically. Whereas it's not difficult to recall a time when, simply put, PC makers competed with PC makers and electronics companies (such as Sony (NYSE:SNE), Panasonic, and others) competed with electronics firms in their various niches -- music players, TVs, cameras, whatever -- the lines are now increasingly blurry.

But that's where the consumer business, strength in the PC market aside, is heading now. It's no longer just the early adopters who are shelling out for nifty digital devices. Brian and Dale couldn't predict which devices would "make it" at the time of their writing, but that didn't stop them from closing on a strong, prescient note: "The forward-thinking PC companies will reinvest their free cash flows in the areas offering the greatest potential returns, perhaps becoming totally different business animals in the process."

Fiorina's announcement was a perfect illustration of this process set in motion.

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Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.