Fiorina: HP wants to be tops in PC sales

Hewlett-Packard Co. wants to be No. 1 or No. 2 in worldwide PC sales and has decided not to become a major application service provider (ASP), CEO Carly Fiorina told attendees of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2000 today.

Fiorina said HP now ranks third in worldwide PC sales, an improvement from ninth place when it entered the PC business five years ago. “We’re not only making money, but making pretty good money,” she said. “We not only think it’s a good growth business but a good profitability business.”

She said analysts and others have talked about the PC marketplace “going off the cliff,” but she said that view is biased by looking only at the U.S. “There’s a big world out there,” she said.

Laptop sales at HP are “going like wildfire,” as U.S. businesses move away from desktop machines, she said.

Another successful product promises to be the recently introduced E-PC, a slimmed-down model in size and function that makes maintenance easier and cheaper for corporations and will be available for less than $500 (U.S.). Compaq Computer Corp., IBM and other desktop makers have similar desktops.

Despite this success, she conceded that the corporate desktop market in the U.S. is “beginning to slow.”

HP’s goal is to be No. 1 or No. 2 in PC sales, she said. “We as a company have to play to win,” she said.

Her comments came in a question-and-answer session by two analysts before several thousand of the 7,000 attendees on the first formal day of the annual conference.

Analysts also asked about HP’s commitment to the ASP model, to which she responded: “Fundamentally we won’t become a huge ASP ourselves, since that puts us in conflict with ASPs we want to support.”

She didn’t rule out having an internal IT department sell some small-scale technology services. And, when an attendee asked why HP wasn’t innovating as much as Sun Microsystems Inc., she disagreed, saying HP was holding its own, especially with its largest 100 customers worldwide. “If we are so far behind, why is [Sun CEO] Scott McNealey spending so much time attacking HP?” she asked to loud applause from the audience.

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