HP Taking Long View In Campaign To Lure Enterprise Tablet Buyers4:07 PM EST Tue. Oct. 09, 2012
Hewlett-Packard, in its re-entry to the tablet market, is ceding the consumer space to Apple for the time being to focus on steering enterprise customers away from buying iPads.
HP executives are calling the recently unveiled ElitePad 900 an "enterprise tablet" that is aligned with the needs of business users. In addition to running Windows apps, which can only run on iPads using virtualization, the ElitePad 900 features "military grade durability", as well as management and security that makes it function, from an IT perspective, the same as a PC.
HP expects the enterprise tablet category to grow at three times the rate of the consumer tablet market, but given the long sales cycles involved, HP isn't expecting the ElitePad 900 to have an impact on revenue until fiscal 2014, HP CEO Meg Whitman said last week in HP's annual meeting with Wall Street analysts.
HP isn’t rushing the ElitePad 900 into the channel. It won't be available until January, and HP has not yet announced pricing. Microsoft's shroud of secrecy around Windows 8 is another issue that stands to delay HP's re-entry to the tablet market.
Arlin Sorensen, CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions, an HP partner in the Midwest, is bullish on the ElitePad 900 but isn't expecting to start selling it until late first quarter at the earliest due to the lack of information he is getting about Windows 8.
"Microsoft has not given us adequate access to Windows 8 training," Sorensen told CRN. "We won't sell it until we are comfortable, and the longer it takes for us to get it, the longer it will be before we sell it."
In the meantime, Whitman and her executive team are targeting enterprises that have allowed iPads into their organizations through the bring-your-own-device trend. "In the C-suite, there are Apple devices that are there, but every CIO I talked to wants to have a Windows device, backward compatibility, the ability to control those devices from a security perspective," Whitman told analysts.
John Gunn, president and CEO of ISG Technology, a Salina, Kan.-based HP partner, is expecting strong demand for the ElitePad 900, especially in the healthcare industry.
"Battery life and keyboard are weaknesses in the iPad. I know of several medical practices that have gone to the HP or Toshiba Folio 100 after trying the iPad as an input device during exams," he told CRN.
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Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, is bullish on HP's prospects for ElitePad 900 in businesses but thinks HP will need to raise its profile on the consumer tablet space.
"HP has some winning designs. Anyone in enterprise IT considering an iPad rollout needs to reconsider with what they have brought to the table here," Moorhead told CRN. "My concern is around the consumer strategy, which from a revenue and profit standpoint is miles ahead of what commercial tablets would bring."
HP's answer to consumer tablets is the Envy x2, a Windows 8-based convertible notebook that is expected to arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.
The Envy x2 will be going up against Microsoft's Surface tablet for consumer market share, but last week, Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Printing and Personal Systems unit, told Wall Street analysts HP isn't worried about the implications of competing with its longtime partner.
"Look, Surface doesn't really enter into our thinking a great deal at all," Bradley told analysts. "It's a very limited product with limited distribution. I think it was an attempt to showcase what Windows 8 will do on a tablet."
PUBLISHED OCT. 9, 2012