HP joins in the PC as a Service trend, to offer corporate customers fee per employee for PC equipment

Microsoft recently introduced its Surface Membership program allowing businesses to essentially purchase a “subscription” for a device (Surface 3, Surface Pro 4, or Surface Book) with a monthly price that includes the device, support, and training. The Surface Membership also provides for options to upgrade the device and makes the overall cost more manageable than a one-time up-front payment.

Yesterday, HP announced its own “Personal computer as a Service” Program that sounds a good deal like Microsoft’s Surface Membership. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

HP Inc. on Thursday said it plans to provide companies with personal computers and other devices as part of a service, the latest example of shifting business models as PC makers grapple with weak demand and other pressures.

Corporate customers of HP’s new service will be able to pay a fixed monthly fee per employee for computing equipment, HP said, eliminating the need to pay upfront for hardware and letting companies shift capital spending to other purposes.

But HP stressed other attractions beyond that selling point, which has long been available through computer rentals. 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.

According to the WSJ, HP is planning to offer similar services for other products, including the Elite X3 smartphone. Ultimately, this PCaaS concept allows corporations to shift expenditures away from capital budgets and more easily manage their PC inventories. In addition, the program makes it easier for companies to deploy machines that employees are more likely to use, hopefully removing some of the pressure for bring-your-own-device and the security breaches that BYOD can represent.

The movement towards such services represents a significant shift in the PC industry. We’ll be keeping our eyes on this development to see if it gains more traction.

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What do you think of the idea of "PC as a service"?