HP CEO: PC Spin-Off Decision By October's End; Dell CEO Weighs In

HP CEO Meg Whitman hopes to have a decision regarding spinning off the company's PC business before the end of October 2011, she has confirmed, ahead of the company's previous target of the end of this year. Speaking at Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit this week, Reuters reports, Whitman said her timescale priorities were far more ambitious than those of Leo Apotheker, whom she replaced, "because uncertainty is not our friend here."

"That's a decision I'd like to make ... certainly by the end of October" Whitman said, though later clarified that it was possible the process "may slip a little bit." Nonetheless, she insisted that the evaluation was "certainly much more accelerated" than under Apotheker.

Earlier this month, HP told us that it expected to have a decision on the spin-off before the end of the year, though warned that even if separating the computer hardware business was the eventual plan, implementing it could take 12-18 months.

Whitman would give no indication which way HP was leaning, but said that she was "open minded" on the potential split. Meanwhile, HP's decision has curried some unrequested input from an unlikely source: Dell CEO Michael Dell. Also speaking this week – though not at the Most Powerful Women Summit – Dell suggested that "there are many reasons to stay committed [to a hardware business]" Bits reports, notably the market dominance of PCs. Stepping away from that to focus on enterprise hardware like servers and storage appliances would potentially mean losing economies of scale, he warned. "Give up that scale" Dell argued, "and you need to raise your prices."