Inkjets and laser printers weren't commodity items when HP started making them. I confess I never understood the Vectra -- an IBM clone that actually cost more than an IBM PC.
But old HP quit making stuff when it became a commodity item -- try to buy a frequency counter.
Re Agilent: The revenue share from the T&M side of the business grew ever smaller. The more sensible BoD of that day wondered why would a dynamic young computer company CEO (Crispy Fusilloni) know or care about it? Better to spin it off so that the CEO could give it mind share.