HP says it will offer computers to corporate clients for a fixed monthly fee, freeing them from having to make huge upfront outlays for hardware. Unlike standard computer rentals, however, HP will also offer software to manage the hardware, to make sure users have enough processing power and storage and to keep an eye on whether the devices are deployed as efficiently as possible. That includes making sure users do not have more sophisticated hardware or software than necessary for the task at hand.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the impetus for the new offering is a weakened demand for hardware plus “other pressures.” IDC estimates that HP, which is the No. 2 PC maker after Lenovo, had an 11 percent drop in PC shipments in Q1. The company is now focused on “addressing profitable market niches,” says chief executive Dione Weisler.
In addition to providing hardware, HP says it will also “monitor the health of components in the devices, so it can, for instance, provide replacement batteries before older ones wear out.” According to Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead, the company’s “analytical capabilities” are “the biggest thing that separates” HP from “existing computer-leasing and service offerings.”
HP executive Bill Avey says younger employees are one inspiration for the program. These employees “sometimes choose employers based on the quality of hardware they provide and the flexibility they allow in using it.” If the employee isn’t happy with the employer’s hardware, they’ll use their personal devices.
“That completely circumvents security,” says Avey. With regards to security, HP also promises that, “all data is erased from devices that go out of service and that hardware is recycled.” That’s a guarantee that “often doesn’t happen when companies buy or rent gear, risking the loss of sensitive information.”
HP will “extend the service beyond PCs to tablets” and its big-screen smartphone the Elite X3 that can double as a PC when plugged into a cradle and connected with a keyboard and display. Avey says HP “doesn’t plan to provide other smartphones but could, in some cases, manage them.” The company has also been offering printers for a monthly fee, debuting the service in Asia last year with the intent of offering it worldwide via its dealer channel.