Taking advantage

As the HP/Compaq merger totters towards the finishing line, last ditch lawsuits from Walter Hewlett aside, I have been surprised that the two vendor’s competition do not seem to have made more out of the confusion around the deal.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 3, 2002

As the HP/Compaq merger totters towards the finishing line, last ditch lawsuits from Walter Hewlett aside, I have been surprised that the two vendor’s competition do not seem to have made more out of the confusion around the deal.

While HP and Compaq have been in public relations overdrive, reassuring their partners and customers that all is well, very little has been heard from their rivals. And while the really hard part of the deal—merging the two cultures—has yet to begin, it looks like competitors may have missed their chance.

Of course, no one wants to see business run on sniping and bad mouthing the opposition, but at the same time, the merger has caused problems. Interestingly enough, HP has gained some market share with their PC range, and although at the enterprise level there are some reports of customers thinking twice about Compaq, it has held on to the number one slot in Middle East PC markets. But where a big push from IBM, Dell or Sun might have been expected, none has been forthcoming.

The only vendor that has noticeably made any ground is Fujitsu Siemens, which has managed to land a number of partner deals. The market for brand PCs is still growing here, and faced with a reduced choice of vendors, many resellers have been looking around for another quality alternative. Fujitsu Siemens has been pushing into the region for a couple of years, but it admits that the merger really opened the door to the market in a way that would not have happened otherwise.

The only benefit, and I use that term loosely, is the amount of staff that may be about to hit the job market. Even well before the merger vote was (apparently) passed, workers from both Compaq and HP were looking elsewhere for jobs, only too aware that the merged company would not have room for everyone.

While this uncertainty has been very unpleasant for those involved, and I sympathise with them, it has also provided an opportunity for local companies to pick up quality staff, which spreads the expertise of the big name vendors to the region.

But overall, the opportunity has been wasted. I don’t think HP or Compaq are down and out, far from it, but they have been among the leaders in building the IT industry here. If, as seems likely, we are about to see them merge, then it effectively means one less international company that treats the Middle East seriously, and invests locally to build business.

Even those companies that wanted to take advantage seem to have been held back by the wider economic climate, with head offices unwilling and unable to invest at the moment, regardless of the opportunities. The region is the poorer for not getting that investment.

You may have noticed that for the past few week eCRN has carried a request to renew subscriptions for CRN—that is the monthly print magazine—not this email newsletter. Well, it seems that not enough of you have got online and done this. Just to reiterate, you must renew your details this month to continue getting CRN.

The March 2002 issue should be on its way to subscribers now, but if you haven’t renewed your details yet, it is going to be the last copy you get. Unfortunately it is a requirement of our circulation audit company, who provide official independent figures on readership, that we update our data every three years; and with the high turnover of staff in the region, it makes sense to keep our records as up to date as possible.

This means that the magazine goes straight to the people who want it, instead of getting lost in the internal mail or clogging up the in trays of people that don’t want to read it. It shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, as it only takes a minute or two to refresh details, and we would really appreciate it if you as subscribers could take the time to do it.

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