In an attempt to combat a consistently weakening demand for PCs in the past decade, HP Inc. announced last week that it plans to offer companies the ability to pay for computers and other devices as part of a service. Customers of the new service will be able to pay a fixed monthly fee per employee for computing equipment, diluting the traditional up-front cost of purchasing computing equipment at a one-time fee.
According to the Wall Street Journal, general manager Bill Avery says that the inspiration for the program came from the younger workforce that will choose employers based on quality and flexibility in the computing hardware they offer to employees. These employees will instead use personal devices rather than those offered by the company, which “completely circumvents security” according to Avey.
The hardware isn’t all that the service will offer customers. From WSJ:
HP said it would use software to manage how devices are deployed and used, helping customers make sure employees have sufficient processing power or data-storage capacity—or don’t have more sophisticated hardware than they need. The company also expects to monitor the health of components in the devices, so it can, for instance, provide replacement batteries before older ones wear out, HP said… HP said it would ensure that all data is erased from devices that go out of service and that hardware is recycled, something that analysts say often doesn’t happen when companies buy or rent gear, risking the loss of sensitive information.
HP debuted its new service in Asia last year but plans to expand globally in the coming months through its dealer channel. Pricing has not been released but is expected to vary on a case-by-case basis depending on scope and need for each customer. While not the first company to offer this type of service, HP is notable and this service illustrates the increasing trend of as a service offerings in the computing world. HP plans to offer tablets and its own Elite X3 smartphone as options for the service as well.
Why does any of this matter? Consider this: many computing companies are coming out with new models every year or two. While older models are still able to receive software updates for many years, sooner or later as technology progresses they will fall out of usability with the newest software updates. You should probably be purchasing new computing equipment when this happens anyway – I would guess that most computer models will fall out of usability within 5-8 years of purchase at this point, and you don’t want to be using decade-old equipment at any point.
With this model subscription, if it follows similar models, will allow you to upgrade more often at less cost. Likely you’ll be able to insert language into your deal that ensures that after X amount of months you’ll receive the newest hardware for the same price. If there are any problems with your equipment it falls on the provider to replace that equipment or solve problems – you won’t have to pay for it when a faulty computer breaks down after eight months.
While the total cost over the lifetime of the deal will likely be more expensive than buying a suite of computers up front, keep in mind that the cost will be distributed over years of payment, leaving more cash in your bankroll for other endeavors. On top of that, it will ensure you keep your equipment up to date every one or two years, providing your employees with the most advanced computing equipment possible consistently over time. Finally, you get rid of the risk of having to replace computers as they naturally break down.
Expect more companies to offer solutions like this moving forward. I expect this type of service to take over as computer companies continue to offer advancements at less and less lengthy intervals.