Tremors are a-quaking throughout the PC industry, and the violent shake-up is turning former bedfellows into bitter rivals. Over the past year, PC makers have been vocally complaining about Microsoft's recent decisions, and what's more, virtually every manufacturer has put their money where their mouths are, turning to the open arms of Android and Chromebooks in ever-increasing numbers.
While you can point a finger at the ho-hum response to Windows 8 or the confusion swirling around Windows RT, no-nonsense comments from HP CEO Meg Whitman on Wednesday drove home a much deeper-rooted trust issue: PC manufacturers are still fuming over Microsoft's decision to introduce the Surface tablet and compete directly against their hardware partners.
But don't take my word for it. Here's what the manufacturers are saying about Surface, straight from the horse's mouth, along with samples of each company's 'diversification' efforts in the wake of Microsoft's tablet.
Let's start with the most recent. Here's what HP's Whitman said yesterday (via Barron's):
"Current long-term HP partners, like Intel and Microsoft, are increasingly becoming outright competitors."
No, HP doesn't like the Surface--nor, apparently, Intel efforts like the itty-bitty 'Next Unit of Computing' desktop--crowding its turf. Somewhat ironically, Todd Bradley, the head of HP's PC division, told Citeworld in November that he didn't really consider the Surface 'competition,' per se, slapping the tablet with a verbal backhand.
"I'd hardly call Surface competition... It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it .... It's expensive."
Whitman's comments just a day after HP announced the $279 Chromebook 11, the smaller cousin to HP's Google-powered Chromebook 14 laptop. And in August, the company released the Slatebook x2, a hybrid laptop- slash-tablet running Android Jelly Bean.
If you thought Whitman was blunt, you haven't heard what Acer has been saying about the Surface since Microsoft's tablet was announced.
Here's what Acer chairman and CEO J.T. Wang told the Financial Times a couple of weeks after the Surface, well, surfaced:
"We have said [to Microsoft] think it over. Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."
He wasn't joking: Acer delayed its plans for a Windows RT tablet rather than compete with Microsoft's Surface RT directly. This Wednesday, however, Acer announced a new Chromebook of its own, and the company has bet big on Android-powered PCs.
Not all PC makers are outright hostile towards Microsoft's newfound device-focused ambitions. In August 20212, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said that while he didn't appreciate the Surface's appearance, he wasn't particularly sweating it, either:
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