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新惠普完全克隆IBM?

Kevin Kelleher 2011年03月28日

李艾科对惠普的愿景与IBM大同小异。

    在经历了一系列丑闻,更换了CEO,重建了董事会之后,科技巨头惠普公司(HP) 终于以全新的面貌呈现在世人面前。不过新惠普走的似乎却是另一家公司——IBM的路子。

    上上周惠普首席执行官李艾科和其他高管向股东、分析人士和媒体介绍了新惠普的发展愿景。这些愿景让人很难不想到IBM。IBM就像一个“影子巨人”,影响着惠普董事会的决策走向。

    李艾科为惠普规划了一幅十分动人,但又模糊不明的前景。

    • 构建一个开放的在线市场,使消费者和企业可以在这里购买各种应用程序。

    • 构建 “基础架构即服务”(infrastructure-as-a-service)和“平台即服务”(platforms-as-a-service)等产品功能,以使企业能够使用基于云计算的软件。

    • 推出1亿台运行webOS操作系统的设备,其中许多设备将连接到惠普的基础架构上。

    有些投资者的期望远远不止如此,他们希望惠普采取更多举措,例如进行彻底重组,或甩掉利润率偏低的个人电脑部门。不过他们从李艾科那里得到的却是波澜不惊的愿景——IT业将进一步演化;云计算的破坏性力量;惠普的角色被定义为一个包罗万象的提供商……李艾科说道:“我们所有人都需要一个值得信赖的伙伴来一起探索这个新世界,除了惠普之外,还有谁能实现这种领导能力呢?”

    惠普首席财务官凯瑟琳•赖斯嘉稍后也提到了云计算,并大胆断言:“惠普正着眼于业界未来的发展方向。然后她问道:“除了惠普之外,还有谁有如此上佳的定位?还有谁像惠普一样,具有强大的、可持续的优势?”

    请注意她的修辞:惠普并没有满怀自信地表示自己是唯一一家引领新一代“云经济”的公司,而是在问:除了惠普之外,还有谁能做到这一点。惠普每次抛出这个问题,答案都不言自明——IBM。就连惠普的收益预测也在模仿IBM。上周IBM预测道,截止2015年,IBM的收益将增长11.4%。而本周惠普也表示,截止2014年,它的收益率将增长11.2%,这个数字几乎与IBM的一模一样。

    长期以来,惠普和IBM一直是竞争对手。几十年来,两家公司在业界各领风骚。2002年,惠普斥资250亿美元收购了个人电脑制造商康柏电脑公司(Compaq),明确了其未来发展方向。而IBM却反其道而行之,向软件和IT咨询服务领域转变,而这两个领域的增长潜力和利润率都要好于个人电脑业务。

    不过惠普也及时地在这些领域进行了扩张,它斥资140亿美元收购了IT服务业巨头EDS。因此惠普的营收也超过了IBM,其上一财年的销售额达到1260亿美元,相比之下,IBM上一财年的销售额为1000亿美元。不过在其它重要的衡量指标上,惠普仍相形见绌。尽管IBM的营收不如惠普,但IBM的净利润达到了148亿美元,而惠普的净利润只有88亿美元。而且惠普的市值仅为890亿美元,而IBM的市值高达1880亿美元,是惠普的两倍。

    这还是李艾科的前任马克•赫德拼命削减成本后的结果。马克•赫德醉心于拉高利润率,导致了惠普员工士气不振,公司的创新能力也停滞不前。去年,IBM耗资60亿美元用于研发,是惠普的研发支出的两倍。

    当然,惠普的某些优势也正是IBM所缺乏的,不过那些领域也正是IBM有意放弃的。例如2005年IBM将其个人电脑业务卖给了联想,放弃了它的热卖产品Thinkpad笔记本电脑。而目前惠普近三分之一的收入都来自于其个人电脑部门,但该部门的营业利润率仅为5%。相比之下,惠普的软件部门的利润率为21%,但软件收入占惠普总收入的比重还不足2.3%。

    因此,软件将成为惠普未来的增长战略的重要一环。也就是说,惠普要在这个IBM的核心优势领域上奋起直追。而且像IBM一样,惠普也正在进军云计算领域。不过正如迈克尔•柯普兰指出的那样,在云计算领域,惠普将主要关注食物链的下端,而把高端留给那些已经在该领域站稳脚跟的云计算公司,比如甲骨文(Oracle)和IBM。

    在李艾科的演讲中,他似乎深信,惠普与终端客户的接触,使惠普拥有了IBM所不具备的竞争优势。仿佛只要有了1亿台安装了webOS操作系统的设备,消费者和企业就会自动涌向惠普的云计算产品。不过事实究竟会怎样发展,现在还不明朗。本质上,云技术就不依赖于设备的操作软件。例如亚马逊公司(Amazon)已经建立了十分成功的云业务——亚马逊网络服务(Amazon Web Services),但并不在乎设备采用的是哪种操作系统。

    不过IBM已经开始大步进军“中层云”领域了。IBM最近宣布了构建一个“公共云”的计划,并于本周表示,将投资3800万美元在新加坡建立一个云计算数据中心。本月早些时候,IBM对投资者表示,到2015年为止,公司云服务的收入预计将达到70亿美元。这可能意味着IBM要比惠普更善于把握业界未来的发展方向。

    因此,在上周的惠普股东大会前夜,一位IBM的高管对惠普嗤之以鼻,表示IBM在构建集成软件和服务方面要比惠普“领先许多年”,也就不足为奇了。

    相比之下,在惠普股东大会之后的采访环节上,李艾科的话很有辩解的意味。《纽约时报》(New York Times)引述了他的话:“我们没有在追赶任何人,尤其是IBM。”而当《信息世界》(Infoworld editor)的一位编辑指出,惠普的资产组合“看起来与IBM几乎100%的重合”时,李艾科不耐烦地回应道:“我想稍稍纠正你的话:是IBM与我们100%的重合。”

    不过,打嘴仗没有任何意义。胜负是由市场决定的。如果惠普能够在自己的战争中打赢IBM,那么一切批评的声音都会烟消云散。不过,现在惠普的当务之急,是要在IBM的阴影之下证明自己。

    译者:朴成奎

    Behold the new HP. After a series of scandals, a change in CEOs and a rebuilding of its board, the tech giant revealed the new HP to the world: It's still very much a company that wants to be another company -- IBM.

    Watching CEO Léo Apotheker and other HP (HPQ) executives present their vision last week to shareholders, analysts and reporters, it was hard not to think of IBM (IBM), the unnamed elephant sitting in HP's boardroom.

    Apotheker outlined an appealing if vague future for HP:

    • An open, online marketplace where consumers and companies alike could buy apps;

    • Features like infrastructure-as-a-service and platforms-as-a-service that allow companies to tap into cloud-based software;

    • 100 million devices running webOS, many of which will connect to HP's infrastructure.

    Some investors were hoping for much more -- a radical restructuring maybe, or plans to spin off the low-margin PC division. What they got was Apotheker's anodyne vision of an evolving IT industry, the disruptive force of cloud computing, and HP's role as a soup-to-nuts provider. "All of us need a trusted partner to navigate this new world," he said. "Who but HP could deliver this leadership?"

    Later, CFO Catherine Lesjak mentioned the cloud again before boldly declaring that "HP is skating to where the puck is going," (cue eye roll) and then asking, "Who else is as well positioned as HP is? Who else has as powerful and as sustained advantages?"

    Notice the rhetoric here: HP isn't saying with confidence it's the only company to usher in the new cloud economy, it's asking you who else can do it. Each time it did so, there was an implied answer: "IBM." HP is even mimicking IBM in its earnings forecast. Last week, IBM estimated its earnings would grow 11.4% through 2015. This week, HP said its earnings would grow through 2014 at the nearly identical rate of 11.2%.

    HP and IBM have long been rivals. Both were computing giants for decades, but while HP pinned the future on its $25 billion purchase of personal computer maker Compaq in 2002, IBM took the opposite approach, transitioning into software and IT consulting services, both areas that had more growth potential and better profit margins than the PC business.

    In time, HP expanded into these areas as well, helped in good part by its $14 billion acquisition of EDS, an IT services giant. As a result, HP surpassed IBM in revenue, bringing in $126 billion in sales in its last fiscal year, compared with IBM's $100 billion. But by other important metrics, HP still lagged: Despite smaller revenue, IBM's net profit of $14.8 billion dwarfed HP's $8.8 billion figure. And the market values IBM at $188 billion, double HP's market cap of $89 billion.

    And all this was in spite of severe cost cutting by Mark Hurd, Apotheker's predecessor. Hurd's obsession with driving up profits left the company's staff demoralized and its ability to innovate hamstrung. Last year, IBM spent $6 billion on research and development, twice as much as HP did.

    There are, of course, strengths that HP offers that IBM lacks, but these are generally areas where IBM has chosen not to do business. IBM sold its PC business, which made the popular Thinkpad laptop, to Lenovo in 2005. Today, nearly a third of HP's revenue comes from its PC division, which has an operating profit margin of 5%. By contrast, HP's software unit has a profit margin of 21%, but software makes up less than 2.3% of HP's total revenue.

    So software is going to be an important plank in HP's growth strategy going forward -- that is, HP is going to go hard after a core IBM competency. And like IBM, HP is moving into cloud computing, although as Michael Copeland pointed out, HP will focus further down the food chain, leaving the high-end to companies with more established cloud offerings like Oracle (ORCL) and, ahem, IBM.

    In his presentation, Apotheker spoke as if he believed that HP's access to end users would give it an advantage over IBM, as if 100 million webOS-powered devices will somehow draw consumers and companies into HP's cloud offerings. But it's not clear that will happen: The cloud is almost by definition independent of the operating software running devices that connect to it. Amazon (AMZN) has built a successful cloud business, Amazon Web Services, without caring which OS devices are running.

    But IBM is already taking big steps into the "mid-level" cloud, too. It recently announced its own plan to build a public cloud, and this week it said it's investing $38 million in a cloud computing data center in Singapore. Earlier this month, IBM told investors it plans to see $7 billion in revenue from cloud services by 2015. It may be that IBM is closer to the proverbial puck than HP.

    So it's not surprising that, on the eve of HP's shareholder meeting this week, a top IBM executive sniffed that his company was "years ahead" of HP when it came to building an integrated software and services provider.

    By contrast, in interviews following the meeting, Apotheker seemed on the defensive. The New York Times quoted him saying, "We are not playing catch-up to anyone, particularly IBM." And when an Infoworld editor noted that HP's portfolio "seems to overlap almost 100% with what IBM is doing," Apotheker replied testily, "I would qualify it slightly differently: IBM overlaps 100% with us."

    In the end, such verbal sniping means little. Rivalries are settled in the market, and if HP can beat IBM at its own game, it will silence its critics. For now, though, HP will have to prove itself in IBM's shadow.

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