Whitman Says Security Will Be HP's 'Sweet Spot' In Tablets


As Hewlett-Packard prepares to jump back into the tablet market with Windows 8, CEO Meg Whitman is talking about how HP will position its tablets against the competition.

"I think our sweet spot [in Windows 8 tablets] has to be around security," Whitman told CRN in an interview last week. "This whole security thing is a big worry, not just for big enterprises but also for medium enterprises and small and medium businesses."

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is making employees more happy and productive, but it also introduces IT challenges that organizations will eventually need to address, according to Whitman.

"The notion is that these companies are someday going to let employees show up with their own device, whether it's a PC, iPad, Mac," Whitman said. "I get the notion, but every CIO I talk to says, 'Yea, wow… that could be pretty tough. And the first breach that happens, all bets are off.'"

HP is looking for a crack in Apple's armor, something to slow the runaway freight train of iPad sales to businesses. So HP is playing up its deep roots in enterprise IT to create the impression that it's better equipped to build a secure tablet.

However, the iPad is already well entrenched in Fortune 500 firms, and Apple sold more iPads in its fiscal fourth quarter (15.4 million) than HP sold PCs (14.7 million). What's more, the doomsday scenario of corporate data being compromised on an iPad -- whether from a lost or stolen device or through exploitation of a security vulnerability in iOS -- hasn't materialized.

These sorts of incidents could eventually become widespread, but until they do, security experts say HP could have a tough time luring customers with the promise of a more secure tablet.

"The fact is, companies do not adopt new technology based on security alone," said Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, a Beaverton, Ore.-based solution provider. RIM, he noted, offers the most fundamentally secure platform in the mobile industry, but that hasn't be enough to stop its steadily sliding market share.

"Security is a consideration, and an important one. But if you can make an iPad secure, and get all the benefits of ease of use and instant acclimation to the platform -- then why would you consider some other platform?" Plato said.

Next: What the iPad Lacks From A Security Standpoint