When I first heard that HP was on the verge of getting out of the mobile industry by discontinuing the webOS operating system and indefinitely stopping production of their less than successful TouchPad tablets I honestly thought HP was nearing the end. For a company like HP to surrender so quickly without even making any significant efforts to stay afloat and remain competitive is never good. And when the rumors that HP was also in the process of selling off their consumer computer divisions began to emerge later in the day I was certain that HP was on its last leg.
How, I asked myself, could HP stay afloat on a calculator and printer business alone? And after a great deal of thought I’ve ultimately come to the (logical) conclusion that they simply couldn’t. So as I sat down yesterday evening and began catching up on the news I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel for HP when I read that the company was throwing down ten billion dollars to sweep up Autonomy; a software development company. It was that exact moment, the same day that HP made what would be otherwise rather troubling news, that HP’s new business plan became readily apparent.
HP wants to be a software company. And really, with all of the competition and the ongoing patent battles that are playing out rather comically in various court systems over hardware patents right now, HP’s decision to simply fold and give up and move away from hardware altogether really isn’t that bad of an idea. Sure, they’re walking away from some potential, but with Microsoft, Apple, and Google already packed into the hardware industry like three fat men in an airplane seating aisle I can see where it really does make enough sense for HP to put their cards in and begin making ground on an industry that they feel they have better chances in.
Now, if you’re like me this may very well be the first time you’ve heard of Autonomy; and after looking at the nature of the company it’s easy to understand why you haven’t. You see, unlike companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple that develop software usable at the consumer, small/medium business, and enterprise level, Autonomy’s focus is exclusively on high-end enterprise-level solutions. With ventures ranging from enterprise collaboration and communication to legal catered platforms to content management systems for high-end content management systems the company is really diversified.
For HP that’s a great thing. You see, if HP is able to acquire Autonomy and is able to take on their workload (something that I’m sure they can do) the company will be able to have an edge in an unspeakable number of industries and will thus be very stable in terms of business. Perhaps more importantly, if HP choses to build upon Autonomy and decides to keep the company in the enterprise-focused direction they’ll be able to run their business without having to deal with – or even worry about – maintaining public relations with the general public. Think about how much easier that would make things for a company like HP.
Perhaps most interesting is that while poking around Autonomy’s site the company is very blunt in saying that they’re “powering [the] world’s largest cloud at over 31 petabytes.” This is really what got me thinking. Is HP looking at moving their business into the clouds? I mean, it’s a huge business to be in right now, and I’m sure that it’s going to continue growing at exponential rates over the next few years. So HP would be making a pretty safe bet if they were thinking about hopping aboard the cloud right now; regardless of if they wanted to remain business-oriented or open themselves up to consumers as well.