It's August 2011, and Hewlett-Packard, an elder statesmen of computer manufacturers, has announced that it is looking to shed its personal computer business in favor of an enterprise-level software and service model. This revelation, along with the announcement that the company is also dropping its fledgling WebOS and TouchPad operations, has set the information technology world on its ear.
My personal opinion is that HP made the best Windows-based personal computers, and it was the brand that I recommended to friends and family when called upon for my "expert" opinion. Assuming HP sells their PC operations, I will have to reassess all the other manufacturing brands on the market.
It is interesting to note that, with HP out of the picture, there will be only two major U.S.-based brands left selling PCs: Dell and Apple. The other major manufacturing brands are located in Asia. Of course, this does make some kind of sense, because most PC components and most of the manufacturing takes place in Asia anyway. But such an eventuality indicates how much of a commodity the personal computer has become.
In many ways, brand, except in the well-chronicled case of Apple, is practically meaningless. The hardware inside a modern personal computer is nearly the same no matter what brand you look at. Check out Bill Detwiler's Cracking Open and Teardown Photo Galleries and you'll notice the consistency of components across brands.
So that leads me to a couple of questions: When your organization goes to replace a desktop workstation or a notebook, what manufacturer will rise to the top of your list in an HP-free universe? Is an Acer computer just as good as one from Dell or ASUS? Will price be the deciding factor or service after the sale perhaps? How can a manufacturer distinguish itself from the rest of the pack or has the PC become such a commodity that you consider them all the same?
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.