HP to absorb Voodoo PC's catalog, re-org appears likely

Is one of North America's most prolific builders of ostentatious, custom PCs going the way of the Atari ST and the Exidy Sorcerer? The man in charge says no, but the way it's being said has not been filling folks with confidence.

A blog post from the usually forthright Rahul Sood, the CTO of the Voodoo business unit that was incorporated into Hewlett-Packard last year, is being interpreted by the hardware enthusiast community as a thinly-veiled, euphemistic notice of deep setbacks at the former VooDoo PC, and what had up until recently been called the Voodoo Business Unit.

Voodoo is the manufacturer of the premium gaming system Blackbird 002, which was profiled by BetaNews last year.

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An HP spokesperson informed BetaNews this morning that Sood had suffered injuries from a bicycling accident, including some broken bones. While convalescing, he dictated the following message for HP to present to the press: "HP is working on a plan to better leverage its existing resources to bring Voodoo products to market faster and make them more accessible to consumers."

Spokesperson Ann Finnie then directed us to a blog post on the Voodoo division's Web site. That blog post had been removed late this morning, though we were able to locate a cached copy of it on Google. An edited and updated version of it appeared later on Sood's personal Web site, along with new comments clearly intended to allay fears that Voodoo was somehow going away.

"It's been announced internally that the Voodoo products are no longer going to be stand-alone entities, but rather they have been welcomed into the greater HP catalogue," the original blog post read. Sood went on to mention that this integration would enable HP to better market and distribute the Voodoo division's products -- or, perhaps more accurately now, the products made by the people who had been thinking of themselves as the Voodoo division.

"The bottom line is we have ignited the brand and sparked big excitement; so we are now integrating our organizations to fuel our growth," Sood added.

Rahul Sood, chief technologist, HP Gaming

The expanded version of the post, which appears on Sood's Web site, goes much further: "This is the next big step in our evolution, and it will give us the opportunity to expand our product line across the globe. Customers asked for it, so they get it -- that's the bottom line.

"You can look forward to an expanded portfolio, more widely available, with local support and service," Sood continues. "This is the kind of thing that Voodoo does not offer today but needs to offer in order to grow effectively."

One anonymous response to Sood on his personal blog reads, "I wouldn't want my Voodoo laptop be branded as an HP. Voodoo is all about status, individuality and ultimate performance. HP is mass consumer products."

But another commenter said, "This is good news especially from a marketing and advertising standpoint, even more so if Voodoo continues to be featured as a distinct brand."

Elsewhere on the Voodoo division's company blog, readers were being warned that forum discussions on classic VooDoo PC products, such as those manufactured prior to HP's buy-in, would be discontinued after this Friday.

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