It's hard to believe that Digital is dead. Last week, the bones of Digital's future were fleshed out by Compaq's CEO, Eckhard Pfeiffer. In the space of a few hours one of the oldest, and best-known, giants of the computing industry, was effectively laid to rest. One day after the merger was approved, Compaq's surgeons outlined which organs it planned to remove from the corpse. Dr Pfeiffer led the operation and with a positive "look to the future" styled speech, Compaq began harvesting.
Although not said in so many words, Digital's desktop PCs are history.
Despite claims that they will merge PC lines, it seems likely that only Digital's notebooks will make the grade. However, before DEC-lovers start crying or making their way to the nearest building ledge, there is a lot of good coming out of this. Despite the takeover, the general mood among employees has been buoyant. Many are looking forward to working for Compaq.
Look at what they're leaving behind: a haemorragging giant that was run by little more than a glorified accountant (Bob Palmer) who spent more time kissing shareholder butt than putting Digital back on the map - as a reward, he walks away with an obscene package worth in excess of $50 million.
Digital is not a victim of its own misfortune, it's Compaq's lifeline.
Without Digital, Compaq remains a large desktop vendor with a limited range of products and markets. Without Digital, Compaq will never crack the enterprise arena. Considering all the casualties among PC vendors over the past year, there's little future in just being a desktop player.
Compaq needs Digital's massive services organisation. In fact, there's no way Compaq would be number one in anything in a few years without it.
Compaq is relying on the services business doing well. That's 'well' to the tune of $15 billion by 2002.
So, in the end, Digital may have landed on the gravy train after all.
It could be the company that helps the top PC vendor drive PC technology (servers and NT) into the heart of the unix-dominated enterprise arena.
Who would have thought?
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