PSG boss Stephen DiFranco address the channel on HP’s future at the VARnex conference

Channel partners key to HP decision to keep PSG: DiFranco

LAS VEGAS – The head of Hewlett-Packard Co.‘s (NYSE: HPQ) personal systems group (PSG) in the Americas, Stephen DiFranco, told more than 350 channel partners attending the VARnex conference that HP released an update to WebOS and that the TouchPad’s future will be left in the hands of newly appointed CEO Meg Whitman.

DiFranco told CDN Whitman is currently doing an evaluation of WebOS and the future of the TouchPad. “As you know, we took tablets off the market and that has been a challenge for not just us, but all tablet makers whose name isn’t Apple.”

DiFranco added the company is in a quiet period but did say HP will continue with a Windows 8 tablet, but as for the future of HP tablets that decision will be left up to the board and Whitman to make.

Mitchell Martin, Synnex Canada president, said the future of WebOS and the TouchPad remains to be seen, but added the distributor has been supportive of HP’s decisions. “I see HP as an extremely important manufacturer in the channel. Either way, we would have supported them and to the nth degree; they were clear with their commitment to the channel with a (PSG) spin-off or not. That business saw great success in Canada and we’ve been active in telling their story,” Martin said at the VARnex conference, which is hosted by Synnex.

DiFranco admitted it’s been “some interesting times for HP and PSG” this year. He did reveal that the channel’s wish PSG still be a major part of HP and not be spun off or sold did play a vital role in Whitman’s decision. DiFranco added Whitman invited him to be a part of the press conference because of the channel feedback she received.

“The channel partners told us there are great benefits from one entire portfolio and I’m proud that the channel became an important part of the decision. Now it’s time to get back on track,” DiFranco said.

DiFranco provided attendees with an outline on new technology. But he also provided a vision for what technology will be like in 2020. He said the channel should invest in a practice for connected devices. From his research, DiFranco stated that there will be four billion people connected the Web in 2020 out of population of eight billion.

“That sounds like a big number,” he said, but it dwarfs in comparison to the 31 billion devices which will be owned by the four billion connected people. Those devices will use 450 billion connections and 1.3 trillion tags and sensors. And, by 2015 there will be more devices than people connected to the Internet. “Everyone will feed data into a data centre and into the cloud with these devices whether you hold one for education, industrial or healthcare.”

“Our industry is about to explode when these devices get connected. We shall run between 10 to 100 different devices in our life. HP will need the entire product portfolio to deliver what the customer wants,” he said.

DiFranco said HP would be making a strategic bet on professional notebooks such as the EliteBook, the desktop, thin clients, large format displays, ultra portable notebooks and workstations/work-surfaces.

“We’ll see the rebirth of the desktop and its called the All-in-One. You will see far fewer towers. It will be the newest kitchen appliance and we’ll come up with a line of industrial-type of All-in-One products just for the channel,” DiFranco said.

There will also be an opportunity for the channel in thin clients that will not have a hard drive and be a part of the virtual managed workplace. HP thin clients will have a better integration with data centres, DiFranco said.

The next evolution of display will be in large format such as the HP VantagePoint unit, which is a full-size screen similar to jumbotrons. This multi-touch display will be for public place and provide the channel with opportunities in content creation.In ultrabooks, DiFranco said he is positioning them as an Apple alternative.

He believes there is an opportunity for the channel on the commercial side of the market for ultrabooks designed for business that will include business software, security and connectivity.

Synnex’s Martin said the distributor is already configuring these types of notebooks with a personal side and a business side to cater to the trend of bring your own device.Finally, workstations will morph into work-surfaces and HP is developing product for five person applications that groups can collaborate better.

DiFranco closed by saying channel programs and promotions will focus on the practices the channel has. “At the end of the day my job is to make sure our products supports your goals and initiatives,” he said to the VARnex members in North America.

Follow Paolo Del Nibletto on Twitter: @PaoloCDN.

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