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Commentary: The end of the 3000 line

Many satisfied customers will lament the discontinuation of the system line that first got HP into the minicomputer market, but Gartner sees it as a smart move.

    By Andrew Butler, Gartner Analyst

    Many loyal, satisfied customers will lament the discontinuation of the system line that first got Hewlett-Packard into the minicomputer market. They should expect other aging and nonstrategic products to follow the HP 3000 series into history.

    HP has announced that, over the next five years, it will discontinue its venerable 3000 series of computers. All HP support will end on Dec. 31, 2006.

    HP launched its first true minicomputer, the HP 300, in the early 1970s. Over the years, that product evolved into the 3000 series, which has been a mainstay to a generation of HP customers. In recent years, however, it has been in steady decline, with some pundits estimating that the HP 3000 business has been halving every three years.

    The 3000 series was built with a proprietary operating system--MPE/iX--and used HP's PA-RISC processors. That proprietary architecture progressively lost support from independent software vendors, which prefer to write their software for the more widely used and open architectures of Unix and Windows.

    See news story:
    HP tests loyalty with server cancellation
    HP's main range of systems today, the 9000 series, uses HP's Unix for the operating system and will be transitioned to Intel processors. A similar transition might have been possible for the 3000 series. However, Gartner's assessment is that such a transition would not have been very sensible.

    HP's decision to discontinue the HP 3000 is not directly related to its plan to acquire Compaq Computer. However, that planned acquisition, coupled with the troubled economic times, provides a catalyst for HP to look at some of the aging products still cluttering its portfolio. The proposed acquisition is focusing minds on determining the core products.

    Gartner believes that HP's decision to phase out the 3000 line is a smart one. The line has served the company and many customers well for more than 30 years, but the time has come to phase it out.

    Customers using the HP 3000 are being offered reasonable terms for moving to other HP products. Some may be receptive to offers from competitors that will use this as an opportunity to capture HP customers with attractive deals of their own.

    (For a related commentary on HP's hard choices in the server area, see Gartner.com.)

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.