Thursday 18 July 2019

Adrian Weckler: The ultimate reason for redundancies lies in your pocket - smartphones now rule world of technology

'To know the ultimate reason for the job losses, just look in your pocket. HP doesn't have an iPhone in its stable'. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
'To know the ultimate reason for the job losses, just look in your pocket. HP doesn't have an iPhone in its stable'. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Time has caught up with HP. The company warned us late last year that it would be cutting up to 4,000 jobs from its global operations.

It looks like Ireland may not escape this unscathed.

To know the ultimate reason for the job losses, just look in your pocket. HP doesn't have an iPhone in its stable.

It ruled in an era when PCs, laptops and printers dominated the technology world. But now, the world is run by smartphones.

HP's Leixlip plant makes printer cartridges. While there is still a market for these, it's not the wide-scale premium business it once was.

As for any workers let go in the current redundancy phase, their short-term employment prospects should be good.

Those employed in modern multinational manufacturing plants are generally considered to be high up the technology chain and are often sought-after by other multinationals.

Read more: 'It's a very sad day for the staff and their families' - Tech giant HP confirms 'frightening' 500 job losses

Geographically, Leixlip has many big companies within a 30-minute drive including IBM, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and a host of other giants. Most are constantly hiring, albeit not always in the areas that HP specialised in.

It is also likely a company of HP's stature would act fairly in relation to redundancy packages. It has already earmarked around €400m for the global layoffs programme.

Despite being caught with 'legacy' product lines, HP is still a profitable company that isn't going to disappear. There is still a large office printer and PC business out there.

Indeed, some of the company's new models have won numerous awards and plaudits for their features.

But it has to start building big new product categories and diversify away from 20th century technologies.

It seems that part of that strategy for HP may be to pull back some core operations to the United States.

Tempting as it might be to think that there are geopolitical motives in this, tech firms often make this move when they're recoiling to rebuild themselves.

So this is one industrial move that probably can't be placed at the door of new US President Donald Trump.

Irish Independent

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