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Lack of focus hurting HP against Apple, Samsung, says analyst

Hewlett-Packard needs the kind of focus on design and quality that its Silicon Valley neighbor has, a USB analyst says in a research note.

HP Envy 14 Spectre. A MacBook Pro killer?
HP Envy 14 Spectre. A MacBook Pro killer? Brooke Crothers

Hewlett-Packard is losing its battle with Apple and Samsung because of a lack of focus and strong products in key segments, an analyst said in a research note today.

After Meg Whitman took over the CEO spot, HP's pitch to financial analysts has been that it can succeed as both a corporate and consumer computing company, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich wrote in research note cited by MarketWatch.

But it's not turning out that way, with the stock now hovering below $20. "HP is...being attacked in enterprise computing by focused goliaths like IBM and EMC and in end-user computing by Apple, Lenovo, and Samsung," Milunovich wrote.

And Milunovich returns to an old theme: break-up, claiming HP might be better apart than together -- what he calls "smart to be apart" instead of "better together."

Whitman renounced the breakup strategy when she took over as CEO at HP in September of last year. A tack her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, essentially got fired for.

Theoretical fixes for HP's problems aside, it has not fared well on the consumer front compared to tech titans like Apple and Samsung.

It has virtually no tablet offering to take on Apple and Samsung (a Windows 7 slate starting at $699 doesn't count). And its consumer laptops don't have the flare of Apple's products -- at least not yet.

HP, for example, has one standout ultrabook design, the Envy 14 Spectre, but it starts at $1,399, too expensive for most consumers. (Not to mention quality control problems: see MobileTechReview's take on the Envy 14 at the 1:14 mark.)

And a more recent entry, the Spectre XT, skimps on a key feature, the display: the XT offers only a pedestrian 1,366x768 resolution screen with so-so viewing angles, according to CNET Asia.

And high-profile articles about how HP's manufacturing organization can "completely ruin" a product don't help HP's cause.