Will the HP buy put a hex on VoodooPC?


Will VoodooPC Inc.’s pact with Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP (HP) prove to be a smart alliance or a poisonous potion for the boutique PC maker?

Industry experts appear divided on the impact of the acquisition.

The buy will open up HP’s immense research and development (R&D) resources to Voodoo, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif.

While boutique PC markers like Voodoo strive to provide high-performance machines to a niche market, they are prevented – by limited budgets – from undertaking extensive R&D. That issue, Enderle believes, may be resolved with the acquisition.

HP has the largest R&D resources aimed at personal computing, the analyst noted in a recent brief. He said the Palo Alto, Calif.-based giant is doing advanced research on processor cooling and production of low-power, high performance processors.

This view was echoed by Rahud Sood, founder and president of VoodooPC. “The benefits of this acquisition to VoodooPC are immense, not least of which is having a direct conduit to HP’s innovation and international presence.”

HP has realized a chance to carve out a niche in the consumer gaming market with VoodooPC, Sood said on his blog site. “They [HP] saw big value in taking our brand.”

He said HP also values Voodoo’s ability to commercialize ideas quickly and efficiently without affecting its personal systems group business.

Enderle, however, estimates it would at least take a year before VoodooPC produces a new product under HP.

Another boutique PC maker is also wary of possible complications.

VoodooPC’s tie-up with HP might mean the Canadian firm loses some flexibility, according to Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest, makers of custom built PC based in Medford, Oregon.

For instance, Reeves said, an innovation developed by HP could be easily copied by other companies. These companies can churn various iterations of the product depending on customer specifications.

VoodooPC, on the other hand, might be constrained to stick with the HP version, Reeves said in a recent article. VoodooPC users also want to know who will have the final say concerning the release of Voodoo products.

Some VoodooPC fans even wrote to Sood asking if the high-end computers will loose their exclusive status and start appearing in stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Sood sets such speculation to rest: “You’ll never see a Voodoo exclusive machine in any discount retail store, anywhere on this planet,” he asserts.

The only exception, he says, is if “by some miracle a customer of the discount retail store happens to own a Voodoo and he or she and carries it in into the store, trips and falls while walking by the computer section – and the system flies through the air and lands on the shelf.”

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