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Why the PC is passé for tech companies like Hewlett-Packard

HP laptops displayed at a Best Buy store.

Hewlett-Packard reports its quarterly results Wednesday as it tries to adjust to a shifting tech landscape. These days, PCs are passé.

In fact, it’s pretty much a post-PC world for legacy tech companies like H-P, Dell, and IBM. They don’t make much money from hardware anymore. Now, the money is in cloud services, analytics and artificial intelligence. 

IBM’s Jeopardy-winning computer, Watson, is an example of what’s lucrative, says tech analyst Rob Enderle.

“The money is in the technology that makes them smart, not in the hardware itself,” he says.

But while IBM bets on artificial intelligence, Dell leads in the server market and Hewlett Packard is investing in cloud services. Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, notes that older tech companies aren’t trying to be king of the entire computer hill anymore, just part of it.

“I don’t think they’re all on the exact same path,” he says, “and I think that’s where we’ll see it for the next 25 years.”

If the companies are still around. Carl Howe, vice president of the Yankee Group, says older tech firms missed out on the mobile market and their new strategies may not save them.

“It’s a little bit like saying, Chrysler and the like were making great cars, but the market has moved to flying cars,” Howe says. “Mobility is a case where your car really does have to fly.”

Or at least fit in your purse.

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