The most logical companies to buy HP's PC business -- if HP sells it rather than spins it out as its own company (maybe HP could call it Compaq) -- are Acer and Lenovo due to their ambitions and histories. Apple will likely gain share in some countries as a result, but it will be more from iPad and iPhone pull than HP switchers.
In one sense, it won't matter much who makes the PCs, as the designs have become so commoditized (and Intel really drives their design anyhow, not the PC makers) that brand matters a lot less -- except for Apple's Macs and, for a niche audience, Panasonic's Toughbooks. Once, Acer had a distinctively high design and build quality, as did HP recently; if it polished off that approach, Acer might attact the business buyers that Dell wants but has had trouble satisfying of late.
The bigger issue for businesses will be their desire for stable hardware versions so that they can have the same tech support and software images for every device. HP and Dell fulfilled that demand, but it's not in the nature of most of the other PC makers to build and stock products that way. IT may need to give up on the idea of a PC monoculture, as it did this past year with smartphones in many organizations. The bad news: Each of us will end up paying for our work PCs, as is increasingly the case for smartphones and tablets.
Me, I'm glad I use a Mac, and I'm really glad I don't work at Microsoft. After all, it's hard to say who's going to help push Windows 8 at this point.
This story, "As HP bails and Dell fades, who will make PCs?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.