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PreCentral: HP merging printing group into Personal Systems Group, webOS printers one step closer to reality [update: confirmed]

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HP reportedly to merge printing group into Personal Systems Group, webOS printer

HP CEO Meg Whitman's crusade to right the plundered ship Packard is poised to really shake things up at the Silicon Valley giant: according to a report today from AllThingsD, the Imaging and Printing Group is set to be merged into the Personal Systems Group. That'll put HP's still-profitable-but-not-as-much-as-before printers group under EVP Todd Bradley and his computers-and-tablets division.

The move would address cost-cutting and simplification to an extreme degree, especially on the marketing front. If you stop and think about it, both the IPG and PSG largely target the same set of customers: businesses and consumers, often shopping for both printer and computer at the same time. There would also be significant cost savings from combining the redundant human resources and finance operations under each group, plus having one fewer division to manage up top. It also gives Bradley some more to do, perhaps as compensation for having been passed over for the CEO job twice in less than a year, despite his extensive executive experience (once even serving as the CEO of Palm).

Ironically, this consolidation comes just seven months after former HP CEO Leo Apotheker announced plans to split the Personal Systems Group off as a separate company and refocus HP proper on enterprise services and printers. Just half a year later we've seen HP's printing division start to falter as businesses and consumers alike dramatically cut back on their printing (and thus purchases of high-margin ink cartridges). That said, the Personal Systems Group has faltered recently as well, though that can be chalked up to the damage done by the uncertainty of the spin-off and what that would mean for the future of whatever company(s) resulted.

Amusingly, this also puts together two divisions that HP desperately wanted to work together right after their purchase of Palm. You'll recall that the Palm Global Business Unit was slotted in under the Personal Systems Group and Bradley, with the goal of making webOS smartphones and tablets, as well as getting the operating system onto desktop computers and printers - of which HP expected to sell several million. Even then when HP was trying (unsuccessfully) to sell webOS to the highest bidder, they were still running into the sticking point of webOS on printers. Fast forward to today and HP's now in the process of open sourcing webOS with little public thought being paid towards the webOS printer. Maybe in 2013.

Update: HP has announced their plans to merge the Printing and Imaging Group into the Personal Systems Group, giving birth to the Printing and Personal Systems Group, headed by Todd Bradley. Press release is after the break.

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