HP CEO Meg Whitman has a few sharp words for her dear friend John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco: for all HP’s troubles, it’s in better shape for the future than Cisco.”I’d rather have my hand than John’s hand right now,” she told attendees of the Gartner Symposium IT Expo, reports Forbes’s Eric Savitz.
HP and Cisco used to be in very different parts of the tech business: HP was known for its business servers, while Cisco made networking equipment. But they’re now direct, head-on competitors in those fields and others, and the rivalry between them has become epic.
At Cisco’s annual conferences, execs loves to refer to HP’s networking products as the “good-enough network” and do on-stage demonstrations showing its gear smoking HP’s.
Whitman’s reference to Chambers as her “dear friend” stems from their politics: Both are influential Republicans in California, and Chambers supported Whitman when she ran for governor of the state.
That has, in the past, lead to camaraderie between them. But now that Whitman runs his nemesis, the gloves have slowly been coming off.
Last month, Chambers told Bloomberg that he would have advised Whitman not to have taken the job at HP. Yesterday, Chambers told attendees of the Gartner conference that HP has “lost its way.”
Today, Whitman responded that although “John is a dear and good friend, in the networking space, we now have 18% unit share, 11% market share, and [are] moving fast.”
She added that demand for computing power is increasing and HP is working on new technologies to meet that, such as new ARM-based servers. These are servers built on a chip design that runs in many popular smartphones. They work faster and use less power than traditional processors, which makes them attractive for data centres, too.
And then she added this barb: HP has 41% market share in networking equipment in China. That’s a market where Cisco’s run up against a homegrown competitor, Huawei.
Cisco makes most of its money selling expensive, high-end networking equipment that perform a lot of functions. A movement called software-defined networking threatens Cisco because it moves many of those functions into software and lets companies use low-cost, commodity networking products from Huawei or HP, instead of expensive gear from Cisco.
In fact, in April, Chambers said Huawei is the company he most feared.