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Despite last year's epic failure of the TouchPad, Hewlett-Packard still believes it can knock Apple's iPad off its lofty perch in the enterprise tablet market.
HP has been teasing its forthcoming Windows 8 tablet in television commercials and will have more information to share about the device "pretty soon," said John Solomon, senior vice president of Americas sales for HP's printing and personal systems division, in an interview last week.
"We will be very focused on the commercial tablet opportunity, which is completely under penetrated. And, we have some unique intellectual property that we're going to apply," Solomon told CRN.
Solomon declined to elaborate on the unique technology HP's Windows 8 tablet will contain, but he did paint it as a product that is tailor-made for the channel. Judging from his characterization, it appears that HP will target vertical markets in its initial Windows 8 tablet push.
"Other OEMs will be doing tablets, but the HP tablet is going to be different: It's going to have a specific area of focus, or multiple areas of focus, which will require a high degree of channel engagement to take full advantage of the opportunity," Solomon told CRN.
HP partners could be forgiven for feeling skeptical about these claims. HP executives gushed about the channel opportunities in the run-up to the TouchPad launch, but when HP deep-sixed the tablet after seven weeks on the market, many partners felt like they had been taken for a ride.
Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider, agrees with HP's assessment of the commercial tablet market, but says tapping into the opportunities is more difficult than it may seem.
"It’s hard to compete with the iPad -- it’s by far the best tablet out there," Fisher told CRN. "And, our previous attempts to sell tablets through the channel, with products like the TouchPad and Toshiba Thrive, have meant trying to convince customers that they don’t want an iPad in exchange for a few dollars. It’s not a good argument to make, or a profitable transaction for the VAR."