Challenges ahead: What’s next for HP, Intel, Cisco?

There’s plenty of talk about emerging companies: Messaging startup Snapchat reportedly turned down an offer to be bought by Facebook. Imgur, which allows for the sharing of images, has been called “the biggest little site in the world.” But what about the big names? What are older tech companies doing to stay relevant?

Hewlett-Packard: The PC giant is in the midst of a turnaround effort, which CEO Meg Whitman has said will take a few years. The company is contending with a slowing personal computer market as it tries to recover from changes at the top and pricey acquisitions that haven’t panned out in the past few years. The board has taken some of the blame. At least one analyst has said the board changes earlier this year buy Whitman a year to show real progress — which could mean 2014 will be crucial for Whitman, who became CEO in 2011.

Is the company going back to tackling mobile? There has been speculation that HP will launch “phablets” — a hybrid of smartphones and tablets — in Asian markets by the end of the year. Of course, if the rumors are true, it should happen in the next few days.

Intel: As its PC-market dominance becomes less valuable amid the rise of smartphones and tablets, the chip behemoth  and new CEO Brian Krzanich are betting on “the Internet of Things” — eventually, every gadget or appliance or piece of infrastructure will be connected to the Internet. In an article by Steve Johnson in the fall, Intel cited a couple of examples of how connected devices powered by its chips have made a difference: Sensors detect flooding on the streets of Dublin, Ireland and adjust traffic lights accordingly; medical care made better with real-time monitoring devices and the reduction of time it takes to sequence genetic data.

Cisco: Connectivity is its business, so the Internet of Things also will be key to the networking company’s future. “It will change health care. It will change everything imaginable. This is one of those inflection points. We got growth for a decade off of the Internet. The Internet of Things will be even bigger,” Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers told Bloomberg Businessweek recently.

In the meantime, as Jeremy Owens wrote, last month the company had its worst day on Wall Street in nearly three years after it reported weak earnings and issued a gloomy forecast, which Chambers said stemmed from macro economic issues. Cisco shares are trading at $21.83 as of this post, or about 2 percent higher than its closing price Nov. 14, when its shares plunged  11 percent.


Photo: At least one analyst says 2014 could be make or break for HP CEO Meg Whitman.


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