Analysts debate HP’s motives for buying Autonomy

19th August 2011

As part of the plan, announced at its results this week, HP will spin off its computer business and says it will stop attempting to compete with Apple for tablet business.

Autonomy, founded by Mike Lynch in 1996, is one of the UK's most notable technology success stories.

In a company profile, the BBC explains Autonomy's lucrative niche market, saying its software "can extract useful information from "unstructured" sources such as phone-calls, emails or video.

"That means that its software can do things such as suggesting answers to a call-centre operator or monitoring television channels for words or subjects."

The move will be seen as a sign that the conventional personal computer market is being revolutionised by tablet devices.

Discussing the issue, Computer Business Review notes that HP chief executive Leo Apotheker intends to move the firm away from PCs to more high-value software and services and is discontinuing its TouchPad tablet device after deciding it didn't want to compete with Apple in that segment.

It quotes Apotheker saying:"The tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations. The impact of the economy has impacted consumer sales and the tablet effect is real and our TouchPads have not been gaining enough traction in the marketplace.

Here, in an irreverent take on the deal, the Inquirer takes a look at Apotheker's motives in more detail.

It writes: "Perhaps these massive changes were always on the cards. HP CEO Leo Apotheker came from the German software firm SAP and might rather not deal with hardware, or unpredictable tablet software like WebOS, and is much more comfortable with boring, safe and high margin enterprise software.

The New York Times' Deal Book is fascinated by the fact that the deal involved well over a dozen advisers. It notes that those include Qatalyst Partners, the investment bank run by Frank P. Quattrone, which also helped with Google's move for Motorola Mobility.

Minyanville sees wider economic reasons for both deals but it certainly doesn't agree with the rationale.

It writes: "The Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) deal for Autonomy (AU) and the Google (GOOG) deal for Motorola (MMI) are both signs of the same thing: the mispricing of money and credit. The Fed under Bernanke is leading US corporations to the same deadly water that has poisoned US companies since 1998: easy money leads even extraordinary managers to misinterpret market signals.

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