Don't expect an Apple ad proclaiming "Welcome, HP. Seriously" when Hewlett Packard formally releases its TouchPad tablet on Friday. That was the kind of chutzpah Apple displayed in 1981 when IBM launched its personal computer and Apple responded with a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal welcoming IBM to the PC market.
Thirty years later, HP is poised to challenge Apple in the booming tablet market with the WebOS-based HP TouchPad tablet. And although Apple dominates the tablet market with iPad shipments expected to reach nearly 50 million units this year in a total market of some 70 million units, HP solution provider partners say they see the HP TouchPad as a market game changer that will bring tablet computing to businesses of all shapes and sizes just as the IBM PC brought the PC into corporate America.
HP partners say the HP TouchPad opens the door to sell thousands and tens of thousands of tablet units at a time into vertical markets like health-care providers with customized applications.
Mont Phelps, the CEO of NWN, an HP enterprise partner headquartered in Waltham, Mass., one of the fastest growing solution providers in the country, says even though Apple dominates the market now, he sees the 60-70 million tablet units that will be shipped this year as a drop in the bucket. "That is nothing," said Phelps. "This market is about to explode. I fully expect this to be 25 percent of our business in two years." NWN, a $250 million solution provider, has created a small business unit within the company that is doing application development for the WebOS tablet. "Without applications and business solutions, these devices are just bricks," said Phelps, whose company is working with strategic partners like HP on the Tablet opportunity rather than Apple.
Greg Avera, vice president of worldwide sales for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-headquartered Kensington Computer Products Group, which makes the popular KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for Apple's iPad2, said he sees HP offering channel partners a compelling opportunity with the TouchPad. "HP is a $120 billion juggernaut," he said. "I think they'll do great."
HP, for its part, said the TouchPad will be available officially on July 1 from retailers like Best Buy. The Best Buy in Union Square in New York City is hosting a TouchPad event starting Thursday evening so customers can officially buy the product at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The product is priced at $499.99 for the 16-GB WiFi version and $599.99 for the 32-B WiFi version. The Best Buy Union Square event is being hosted by DJ Nick Cannon, host of America’s Got Talent, and Mariah Carey’s husband, and will feature TouchPad demos, music, and prizes.
Next: HP Channel Chief DiFranco Rallys Partners To Take The Tablet High Ground