H-P Flutters Eyelashes at Sun Users

On the day when Sun's (JAVA) shareholders vote on the company's proposed $7.4 billion merger with Oracle (ORCL), rival Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has mischievously unveiled its plan to lure Sun customers into its own technology.

Clearly attempting to play on any uncertainty about the future of Sun's hardware and software, H-P unveiled its "Sun Complete Care Program" on Thursday. Not one to miss a sales opportunity, H-P issued a statement telling its rival's customers: "We've got your back."

The Complete Care Program includes financial incentives and trade-in deals, as well as specialized services and support. H-P's plan also includes a touch of "green" altruism with a promise to dispose of customers' "retired and obsolete" technology assets.

"As I meet with Sun customers and partners, they are adamant that they need a more stable technology provider," explained Paul Gottsegen, vice president of integrated marketing at H-P's Enterprise Storage & Servers division. "By switching to H-P, Sun customers will gain peace of mind, along with significant technology and return-on-investment advantages."

Database giant Oracle shocked the tech sector earlier this year when it clinched a deal to buy Sun, heralding the company's surprise entry into the hardware market. The beleaguered tech giant had originally been a target for IBM ( IBM), although the deal collapsed when the two firms were unable to agree on a price.

Rivals, which include Dell and H-P, began circling as soon as the Oracle deal was announced, hoping to exploit any nervousness amongst Sun's customer base. Dell, for example, has already put programs in place to lure users off Sun's Unix servers, and H-P claims to have won more than 100 Sun customers in the last six months.

Sun has not yet responded to a request for comment from TheStreet.com, although Oracle has already promised to throw its weight behind key Sun technologies such as MySQL. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based firm has also vowed to grow Sun's hardware business, as well as supporting its Linux efforts.

H-P, however, clearly feels that the Oracle/Sun deal is too good an opportunity to miss, particularly after a tough few months in the tech sector. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm is already shaping up for a battle with its one-time partner Cisco ( CSCO), and is looking to open up new revenue streams.

The server maker was cited as one of the tech firms best equipped to withstandthe vagaries of the economy, but has felt the strain in recent months.

H-P's second-quarter profit, for example, slipped 17% year over year to $1.7 billion, and the firm's revenue dipped 3% to $27.4 billion.

H-P's stock rose 25 cents, or 0.64%, to $39.07 Thursday, outpacing the Nasdaq, which rose 0.17%. Oracle's shares also crept up, rising 4 cents, or 0.19%, to $21.55.

Shares of Sun, which announced weak preliminary results earlier this week, dipped 4 cents, or 0.43%, to $9.17.

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