NEW YORK Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N), the world's No. 1 maker of personal computers, expects very aggressive pricing in the U.S. PC market in the coming holiday season.
"I think we will see a lot of aggressive pricing around 'Black Friday,'" said Todd Bradley, who is in charge of HP's PC business as executive vice president of the personal systems group. "Some of it will be by us, some by our competitors."
Holiday season pricing will not be less aggressive than last year, he added in an interview during a visit to New York. Last holiday season, the financial crisis led many U.S. consumers to pull back from spending, prompting some heavy discounting by retailers.
Black Friday is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday and is traditionally seen as the first big day for holiday sales. The weekend including Black Friday, which occurs this year on November 27, usually counts for about 10 percent of the season's sales.
This past summer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) sold an exclusive Compaq Presario notebook computer that it developed in partnership with HP for $298. Bradley said HP did not have any plans to sell a PC below that price, though he did not yet know whether some retailers would try to go lower.
Bradley said that consumers remain focused on buying lower-priced products. "There is a real price-value equation," he said.
Microsoft's launch of Windows 7, the latest version of its operating system, on October 22 will help to drive PC sales.
"I think the product is a very strong one and they have put a lot behind promoting it," he said in reference to Microsoft.
Overall, Bradley said that he was "cautiously optimistic" about the holiday season. HP was managing its margins and planning cautiously but was also in a position to meet demand if sales were stronger than expected.
Three weeks ago, HP unveiled several new products, including thin and light laptop PCs and a gold "digital clutch" netbook adorned with butterflies in a collaboration with designer Vivienne Tam.
Bradley declined to comment on a report last week in The Wall Street Journal that he is set to take charge of the company's printing unit as well as its PC business as part of a major reorganization.
(Reporting by Martin Howell, editing by Matthew Lewis)