Dell has just announced that it’s changing its focus. While a number of companies have chosen to emulate, and compete against, Apple in their new plans, Dell has gone the direction chosen first by IBM: not focussing on the low profit PC market, and instead concentrating on the more profitable areas in business technology. HP has chosen both roads, first targeting Apple’s markets, then (after serious setbacks in the mobile field, and a change of CEO) abandoning mobile and PC to focus on business technologies. At this time the latest plan from HP seems to be somewhere in between, abandoning most mobile technologies, but not selling off it’s low profit PC business.
Even Cisco made a stab at consumer products, before realizing how far that was from is core technologies, and closing down it’s short-lived consumer division. Google has been moving in the other direction: shutting down its Google Labs, reducing its breadth of software development, and acquiring hardware capabilities (Motorola Mobility) to be better able to complete in Apple’s sphere. Microsoft has finally reduced its focus as well, at least a bit, cutting loose or shutting down various areas from pro photography to music players, but still targeting both business products, and the consumer market.
The general strategy seems to be to either take on Apple in its mix of desktop and mobile hardware, end user software, media sales, and other web services, or to retreat into IT and business products; or both, if you are Microsoft. The amazing part is that so many companies have difficulty determining which of these two strategies is appropriate for their organization.
So here is a quick quiz for companies suffering from a Post-PC Era identity crisis:
Do you make hardware?
If so, is it simple consumer hardware, or complex business hardware?
Do you make software?
If so, is it simple consumer software, or complex business software?
Do you sell, rent, or distribute media?
If so, is it low cost consumer media, such as music, movies, and eBooks, or high priced business media?
Do you provide cloud-based storage or services?
If so, is it consumer or business storage or services?
What parts of your current mix actually make a profit?
Review your answers. If it is not now apparent which field you belong in, hire a new CEO.