HP touts Superdome in Asia

Despite merger challenges and a sluggish telecom sector, several Asian cellular operators are purchasing Hewlett-Packard's high-end Unix server.

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Despite merger challenges and a sluggish telecommunications sector, Hewlett-Packard has added several Asian cellular operators to its high-end Unix server portfolio.

Last month, Philippine mobile operator Smart Communications purchased two of HP's Superdome Unix servers, said Mike Muller, vice president and general manager for HP's Business Critical Systems division in the Asia-Pacific region.

And days before HP's merger with Compaq Computer was sealed, Japan's NTT DoCoMo signed on as a Superdome customer, Muller said in an interview.

Critics claimed that the bitter eight-month proxy fight and countless regulatory filings would cost HP and Compaq valuable time and money. But the merger has not affected HP's Unix server sales in Asia, said Rajnish Arora, IDC's senior program manager for enterprise servers and workstations in Asia-Pacific.

"Countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, India and China are witnessing an explosive growth in their mobile subscriber base," said Arora, adding that such increases create a demand for servers.

Other recent Superdome customer wins have included mobile operator Hutchison Wireless in Thailand, Tata Consultancy Services in India, China IT distributor Digital China Technology and Korea's Posco, the giant steel manufacturer, said HP's Muller.

In total, HP has 150 Superdome customers across the region, Muller said. High-end Unix machines are usually priced above $1 million, according to IDC.

On sale since September 2000, the Superdome server competes against IBM's Regatta and Sun Fire from Sun Microsystems.

According to IDC, HP held the lead in the midrange and high-end Unix server markets in the Asia-Pacific region for 2001.

CNETAsia's Irene Tham reported from Singapore.