HP says Dell won't innovate now that it's private

HP CEO Meg Whitman at a campaign appearance during her run for the California governorship in 2010. Credit: tracie1779 via Flickr

That didn't take long.

A couple hours after Dell announced its plans to go private, rival HP issued a terse statement warning customers that the deal will be bad for them:

  • "Dell has a very tough road ahead. The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell's customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity."

The two rivals have taken very different approaches toward Windows 8, which was geared toward touch-screen devices and was supposed to help revitalize the PC market in the face of the iPad.

HP took a cautious approach. The company's top PC exec, Todd Bradley, told CITEworld last year that HP was not seeing much demand for Windows 8 touch screens, and it did not issue any Windows 8 convertibles or tablets for consumers at launch -- instead, it focused on the enterprise market with the Elite Pad. It also recently branched out with a 14-inch Chromebook, joining other OEMs like Asus.

Dell took more chances with Windows 8, launching the 10-inch Latitude tablet and 12-inch XPS 12 convertible. More recently, it launched a tablet running Windows RT, the variant of Windows for ARM (which does not run old Windows apps). Michael Dell has also been trumpeting Windows 8 in interviews, most recently saying that interest was "high" even among businesses.

Neither company has reported sales figures for the last calendar quarter of 2012, so we don't know which (if either) of these different approaches paid off.  But it's worth noting that of the two companies, Dell has seemed a lot more interested in cutting-edge PC innovation than HP did -- at least when it comes to Windows 8.

Also: Dell's private equity deal was partly funded by a $2 billion loan from Microsoft, which means it probably won't be making any Chromebooks any time soon.

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