Lew Platt, chairman and chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, said yesterday that HP's PC business was, "growing, healthy and profitable."
Whatever problems competitors were experiencing, Platt said HP was meeting its targets for PC sales and did not forsee problems in the market. IBM's recent announcement of a near $1 billion loss in its PC business and Compaq's recent profit warning said more about those companies than the market as a whole, he claimed.
"Is the PC era over? It may be for IBM!" he laughed, "I don't think so. Quite solid growth is capable from leading vendors."
"I heard him say that but I just don't agree with him. It may come from your perspective of how you are doing in the business?they [IBM] are struggling. Frankly, we are doing quite well, meeting our growth plans," he added.
In a briefing with journalists prior to the announcement of its new Unix server range, the N class (see earlier story), Platt said the company was only two thirds through the second quarter and he was already confident revenue growth would be above the two per cent experienced in the first quarter, something he described as "very low".
He said he still expected the company to hit its target for double digit growth for the year overall, with a strong second half performance. This would come from all divisions, including PCs.
"No projection we have made shows that the PC market is about to shrink and go away," he said. "Growth could shrink slowly over the next few years and could get to a point of negative growth - especially with Internet appliances [becoming important] in the market - but not yet."
Rival vendor Compaq last Friday warned of slower than expected demand, especially in the US and Europe, but said it now expects to post earnings of $0.15 per share, on revenues of $9.4 billion. The First Call analysts' consensus estimate had previously put profits at $0.31. (see VNU Newswire 12 April)
Last month, it emerged that IBMs PC division lost nearly $1 billion last year. In an open letter to shareholders, IBM's chief executive Lou Gerstner reiterated more strongly comments he has made in the past that the age of the PC is over. (see VNU Newswire 25 March)
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