HP Enterprise division is doing well, but the consumer business is in stress. HP announced they would cut thousands of jobs on top of thousands that already took place over the last few years. I did not realize HP had 50,000 employees. More cutting is probably on the horizon.
None of this means that HP will stop selling computers at retail, in the consumer space. Rather, it is increasingly difficult to offer a product that is decreasing in relevance to a growing number of people. Tastes and preferences have changed and the only company holding steady is Apple.
What we can learn from this is that computers have passed a threshold in terms of what people expect out of them. I find them convenient to type on but I recognize that an Apple iPad Pro with an attached keyboard may work just as well plus you can write on it. Laptops and desktops simple could not compete in the area of convenience. These other devices are more convenient.
Still today, if you are doing certain kinds of things, laptops and desktops are still more convenient. If that ever shifts in the direction or ultra-mobile devices, then that will be the true end of the PC. Just not in 2016. Display screens in mobile tied to cloud computing may change that. Maybe not as much as thought as there is a premium in local computation.
HP will still sell computers for the next few years. People will see new editions of the Pavilion, Envy, and Spectre lines. New models of the machines will continue to appeal to certain persons looking for the capabilities those machines will offer. However, that audience will likely decline in greater numbers as ultra-mobile devices continue to become more second-nature in usage.
Besides convenience, computers in the form of laptops, desktops, and servers had other issues. Chief among them was the expectations. Computers of that sort always had an underlying marketing message of being magical and holding the potential to do wonderful and amazing things. They did in some cases, but not to the level people expected. A hidden selling point of computers of this kind was their potential. The potential just did not materialize, but perhaps it did. Maybe that is what we have in the computer form factor that is the ultra mobiles.
With the laptop/desktop form factor, the software often did not go far enough. Manufacturing barriers in form factor and processor, memory hierarchy innovation was an issue and more. Apple seems to side step many of the concerns in terms of where they focus. Another shift is also seen in the Microsoft SurfaceBook. At a retail level, devices from Apple and Microsoft may remain as the standard bearers for a solid overall computing package that while capable of doing many things, still only fulfil a fraction of its potential.
Meanwhile, I fully expect a third-party market to expand that emphasizes open-source hardware and software. System76 is still advertising. I have no idea how they are profitable enough to sustain a business after all these years. I suppose if RedHat can foster a vibrant business in open-source, despite the software being free, that it is not about cost but value provided.