"This is a perfect reflection of the ongoing transition of the PC market, which brings with it plenty of turmoil," said Christian Perry, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "It's certainly ironic, but not surprising that any competitor would label such a big transition [at Dell] as indicative of an uncertain state. All PC makers are in uncertain states to some extent."
That uncertainty likely is behind HP's harsh statement. With the PC industry destabilized by the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets, every PC maker will be scrambling for customers, even if it means publicly bashing a competitor.
"HP's first salvo against Dell was remarkably vicious," said Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group. "I don't think this kind of snarkiness will help HP in the market, but it does show that HP is going to do its best to take advantage of the situation. I'd expect to see HP wooing Dell corporate customers with sweet deals over the next few months."
However, Olds said it won't be easy for HP since Dell likely is prepared to fight to hold onto its customers.
Dell's rivals are well-positioned to make hay out of Dell's buyout move, though perhaps not as publicly as HP has. Any time there's change and customers become rattled, there's an opportunity for a competing company to swoop in.
Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst with Gartner, said Dell should be able to fend off most threats.
"For [the enterprise], the threat would be minimal as the buyout would less likely affect Dell's corporate PC business in the short term," Kitagawa said. "But for the consumer business, retailers could be more careful about having a deal with Dell. However, consumer PCs are not Dell's strength so it does not create a major threat for Dell there either."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.