Speaking at Oracle's Open world conference in San Fransisco, HP boss Mark Hurd said he thought the technology industry was due for another round of consolidation. "If you look at the math right now in the tech industry ... only a handful of players have more than $100 billion in cash," he said.
He implied that that money's got to go somewhere (I'll take some off your hands, Mark), and once you've dealt with dividends and stock reacquisitions that just leaves company acquisitions. The fact that this comes from Hurd, who essentially owes his job to his predecessor Carly Fiorina acquiring Compaq to the perceived detriment of HP, is somewhat ironic.
This trend is already happening in the corporate software market, where IBM has been the most recent acquirer of a business intelligence company, with its $5 billion purchase of Cognos. This follows SAP shelling out £6.8 bn for Business Objects in February and Oracle buying Hyperion for $3.3 bn in February.
In the hardware space we've already had Acer and Gateway/Packard Bell, Dell moving into data storage through equalogic, Logitech expaning into security via WiLife and so on.
There do seem to be a lot of fat-cats with money to burn and if you look at companies like Nokia getting into satnav, Google getting into smartphones and Microsoft getting into social networking, there's clearly some 'blue-sky' thinking going on about where to put it. Time for that .com start up I think.